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By Clare O’Gara
Mon | May 4, 2020 | 10:49 AM PDT

COVID-19 stole physical graduation ceremonies from the class of 2020. 

Now, cybercriminals are stealing the digital replacement.

Cyberattack against virtual commencement ceremony 

As colleges and universities across the U.S. became remote to combat the novel coronavirus, they also faced a challenging question.

How do you hold commencement for graduating seniors? Some opted for a virtual commencement.

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) described the decision as a historic "first" for the institution: "This year's graduating class will make history when virtual commencement takes place this weekend."

But FGCU may have also achieved another historic "first" through the event: the first graduation to get shut down by a cyberattack. The school posted on Facebook:

"Please be aware that at approximately 9:55 a.m., our vendor, StageClip, experienced a cyber attack on their servers which took them offline and appeared to distort the graduate list."

The ceremony was to begin at 10 a.m.


Friends and family members reacted with confusion, including this comment from a frustrated parent:

"The current world situation is one that is disappointing enough, having your children work so hard and not get to have a 'real' commencement ceremony is devastating for all of us especially our children."

As FGCU struggled to solve the issue, it posted the commencement address from the school's president through another link.

In his address, the president thanked the class of 2020 for "rising to unprecedented challenges" this semester and "showing fortitude, flexibility, and an intrepid nature that will serve you forever."

Hopefully, those traits will help the graduates persevere after having their virtual commencement shut down by a cyberattack.