The full scale of the cyber attack was revealed yesterday (July 22), when university chiefs confirmed that hackers had breached the university's firewall and accessed student records.
The hackers did not hesitate to use the stolen data for criminal means. Since the security breach was discovered on Friday (July 19), young applicants hoping to study at the university in September have reported receiving fake invoices urgently demanding tuition fees.
The university said the'sophisticated and malicious phishing attack' is being investigated by police and anti-fraud agencies.
But it has now been revealed that the investigation is being led by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The NCA is the UK's lead agency against serious organised crime, including fraud, human slavery, weapon and drug trafficking, economic crime, corruption, and cyber crime.
The agency usually focuses on crimes that transcend regional and international borders, working in partnership with other police agencies including Interpol and the FBI in the United States.
It is not known at this stage whether Lancaster University was targeted by cyber criminals from outside the UK.
But the 'sophisticated' nature of the phishing attack, and the involvement of the NCA, suggests that an organised criminal gang is believed to be responsible for the attack.
An NCA spokesman said: "We can confirm that we have been in contact with the university about a compromise of their systems.
"A criminal investigation led by the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit is now underway, and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage."
READ THE FULL STORY: Lancaster University hit by cyber attack, hundreds of students' personal data stolenLancaster University said it would not be making any further comments at this stage.