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Universities Across The Country Have Lost Internet Following Cyber Attack

08/12/2015 16:08 GMT | Updated 09/12/2015 10:59 GMT
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Cyber Attack Crime

Universities across the UK have lost their internet connections following a cyber attack, meaning many of their sites are down.

Institutions connected to Janet, a publicly-funded academic computer network Janet, have come under a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), the Mancunion reports.

Many campuses across the country are affected as Janet is responsible for the WiFi network used at the majority of universities. This also affects .ac.uk and .gov.uk domains.

Its engineers identified the cause as a DDoS attack and are working to identify the source of the assault and fix the issues.

DDoS attacks are malicious attempts to knock out an internet service. This is usually done by flooding the target with great amounts of traffic. This causes the system to exceed its capacity and slow down or become unavailable to users.

Engineers said: “Janet, the UK organisation which provides computer network access to UK education and research services, has experienced a Denial of Service attack, resulting in a degradation of network traffic.

“Further and higher education organisations in the UK—including The University of Manchester—are connected to the Janet network. “Engineers from Jisc are implementing blocks to prevent connections from the source of the attack, while taking great care to ensure that legitimate network traffic is still accessible."

Students have voiced their frustration at the attack, as many have essay deadlines to meet.

Students at City University, London are among those affected and they received an email this morning which read: "Please be advised that a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is causing intermittent disruption to our Internet service provider (JANET), this is affecting our internet connection.

"Network Engineers are working closely with their security response teams to reduce the impact. We will provide an update as soon as one becomes available."

Students have not yet received an update.

Jisc issued this statement on 9 December: "We have been experiencing a targeted and sustained set of attacks on the Janet network. These are distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that have resulted in reduced connectivity and disruption for all Janet customers.

"Various blocks and filtering are being put in place to limit the impact of the disruption, but the details of each attack are subject to change.

"We have had to reduce our public updates via Twitter and the website as we suspect that this information can be used to inform attacks. We have also received a DDoS attack on www.jisc.ac.uk and had to close the website until the attack was over (resolved Wednesday 9 December). This has limited our communication channels with customers, but we are working to keep them informed. Customers affected have been contacted and are being provided with up-to-date information via alternative channels.

"Our engineering team and security team are continuing to work hard to ensure normal service is resumed as soon as possible, and to reduce the impact of future attacks."

Tim Kidd, executive director, Jisc technologies, said: “We understand the importance of connectivity to colleges, universities and other public sector organisations. We are doing everything in our power to ensure normal service in resumed as soon as possible, and in the meantime to minimise any disruption that users of the Janet network may be experiencing. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”