May 24, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers students respond to latest DDoS attack

Photo by Edwin Gano |

For the third time during the 2014-2015 academic year, the RUWireless and RUWireless Secure networks experienced serious “degradation” this past Monday, according to The Daily Targum. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY EDWIN GANO / ASSOCIATE PHOTO EDITOR

Like many other students, Erin Swann said she just wanted to know how and why the Rutgers network is constantly plagued by technical difficulties.

In the wake of the most recent denial of Rutgers Internet access from unidentified sources, University students are sharing comments and concerns about working around a multi-day lack of Internet, particularly during Fall 2015 class pre-registration.

“It puts such a hinder on the students to go about their work, their deadlines and finals studying ... that it's such a disadvantage to us,” Swann, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences first-year student, said.

For the third time during the 2014 to 2015 academic year, the RUWireless and RUWireless Secure networks experienced serious “degradation” this past Monday.

The Telecommunications Division Network Operations Center has been tracking the outage, according to multiple emails sent to University students.

During that attack, servers were unavailable for an entire weekend, with access to the University's Central Authentication Service and related webpages limited to on-campus networks until later that same day, according to a previous article by The Daily Targum.

“A DDoS occurs when thousands of computers request a server for information, overloading it and forcing network administrators to shut it down for protection," according to the article. "They primarily disrupt Internet-reliant services, as what happened with the University.” 

This attack followed a shorter one in early March, during which two emails by the alleged attacker were sent to The Daily Targum.

The sender claimed responsibility for all of the previous attacks on University servers, including one in November. It also said there would be an attack the day it was sent.

In a previous interview with The Daily Targum, Don Smith, vice president and chief intelligence officer for the University’s Office of Information Technology, said the emails were “credible” given its proximity to the attack.

Swann said it "sucks” to have Internet failure right around final exam season, but her opinion of the University has not changed overall as a result of the attacks because she understands the situation is difficult.

“I guess it’s a coincidence, or maybe not," she said. "Its really putting us back from actively studying on the computers and websites. We have to go out of our way to get things done to compensate.”

Swann said she wants the issue fixed because the cyberattack altered the University’s pre-planned registration schedule. She would also like more clarity regarding why this is happening, what the development is on the technical end is, as well as what authorities are doing to fix Internet service, she said.

Menguen Wang, a School of Management and Labor Relations junior and residence hall occupant, said she wonders why Rutgers was chosen to be a target multiple times in the first place.

“(The cyber attack) is during finals, so I have a lot of papers and assignments I have to finish," Wang said. "The problem is that I cannot get the Internet ... I cannot search (for) the information and articles, so that’s the biggest problem when finishing assignments.”

In order to complete her assignments, Wang needs to find another way to access the Internet, a task that can be inconvenient, she said.

Le Zhang, a School of Management and Labor Relations junior and a residence hall occupant, said the timing of the attack is driving her “crazy.”

“It’s around last week and this week," she said. "I have four presentations and five papers I need to finish, so I just want to cry because I can’t finish them. It hurts for me to delay all of that work."

Zhang is fortunate enough to be driving through her assignments on time, but at the last minute, she said.

“I think that if I can get access to Internet I would do a better job,” Zhang said. “I went to my friend’s house to finish it, but I know a lot of people who have no friends that live (off campus), so they have to wait."

Zhang said she was greatly and directly impacted by the cyber attack. 

Her opinions regarding the strength of the University's network and its ability to protect them have been altered because she thinks Rutgers has many bright students and professors out of which someone should be able to crack the case.

Some of Zhang’s friends said if this online siege continues, any fees going into the school’s Internet system should no longer be required.

Even though the absence of RUWireless may give students the opportunity to do other things during the day, Zhang said she does not want to spend extra time outside or picking up a hobby.

“I’ve just been waiting,” she said. “I need to finish my papers and my presentations. I am in no mood to go outside. I’m just wondering whether I can get access to Internet.”

Natasha Tripathi

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