California students hit by DDoS attack, unable to take tests

May 6, 2015 Arctic Wolf Networks

On May 1, Oakland Unified School District in California was potentially hit by a distributed denial-of-service attack that left hundreds of thousands of students unable to log in to take their Common Core assessments, according to CBS. This event occurred to the dismay of educators and students alike, who had spent weeks preparing to take the mandatory tests only to be denied access.

"It's not just the days of the test [that are affected]," said Johanna Paraiso, Common Core Testing Coordinator for Fremont High. "It's the before and the aftermath that's also affecting their learning. So I feel like we just lost two weeks."

The tests are part of a new mandatory assessment system wherein nearly 1.6 million students are taken out of their normal classrooms and placed in computer labs to take these exams.

The California Department of Education, however, denied that the occurrence was anything other than a glitch manufactured by a software update that had taken place earlier in the day.

Whether it was a software glitch or not, this event points to a possible breach in security for the school district and leads to questions of what administrators should do if it happens again. According to a survey conducted by Ka​persky Lab with B2B International, 20 percent of DDoS attacks take days or weeks to be completely resolved. On already taxed and aging systems like those the schools use to log into the third-party testing sites, disruptions in firewalls could be devastating, like it was for these California students.

Cybersecurity news and analysis brought to you by Arctic Wolf, inventors of FireBreak detection and response security services. FireBreak, when your firewall fails.

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