Societies and clubs at NUI Galway are struggling to get back on their feet after an unexpected cyberattack hit NUI Galway networks.
Society and club events have returned to limited in-person events in line with Covid restrictions.
However, the process of getting back to normal was halted when the YourSpace portal, which acts as the dashboard for coordinating society activities, was deactivated.
“For the cyber-attack to follow on from a global pandemic, just as we saw light at the end of the tunnel, has been a big blow,” stated Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway’s Societies Officer at the Societies Box Office (SocsBox).
“We had done such great work on our platforms which host societies, webstore, room-booking, clubs, ATS Mentoring, CÉIM, ALIVE, LIFT, the Employability Award, e-learning, personalised calendars and so much more. Losing all of this was devastating particularly as it was so vital for getting society in-person activity back up and running subject to the stringent COVID-19 guidelines.
“However, the SocsBox team are simply extraordinary and the tech people who developed YourSpace and the Socs website have been very helpful and creative in finding solutions, and our societies have exhibited outstanding resilience.”
The SocsBox have set up temporary pages for people interested in joining societies and for society committees and have Aras Na Mac Léinn available for viewing rooms.
The Socs Cinemas scheme has also taken off with various societies using the Human Biology Building to show films related to their society.
“We are not defeated, far from it, we hope to have our webstore back up and running very soon so tickets will be available for our events as well” added Hughes.
“We do hope that we will get all of our lovely websites back up and running soon but in the meantime the show must go on, and it really is with so much to do, so do come to our events and support the society committees who are working so hard to keep us all entertained and connected” finished Hughes.
Indeed, societies are managing to get by despite the disruption. Auditor of NUI Galway’s Fantasy and Science Fiction Society (FanSci) Ryan Carroll states that the FanSci committee is delighted to return to in-person events.
“Our weekly attendance has skyrocketed in comparison to most of our online events with last week’s Thursday event having 40 attendees,” stated Carroll.
But like all societies, the hack disrupted the process slightly.
“The hack has been a major disruption with covid declarations and event registration forms being tied into the Socs/YourSpace page. However, we have adapted well using Google Forms as an excellent substitute” added Carroll.
Clubs have also struggled to get back on their feet since the cyberattack.
“Unfortunately, it’s not just the academics that have been affected by the cyber-attack, it has had a massive impact on clubs,” states Kirsty Moran, NUI Galway’s SU Clubs Captain.
“Without YourSpace, members cannot sign up to clubs to be added to mailing lists but on the other side, many clubs also cannot access their mailing lists. This has led to multiple clubs unable to welcome new members and inform them of training sessions leaving many students distraught that after almost 2 years without sport, they’re back to square one where they cannot get involved.”
“Clubs have tried to compensate by posting on social media about their activities, but their reach isn’t as strong,” she continued.
“Without YourSpace, clubs have again had to improvise with bookings, causing extra stress on committees and difficulties with admissions into the Kingfisher.
“We hope that the issue will be resolved soon to allow clubs to resume to their full capability,” finished Moran.