Denial-of-Service Attack Weakens FSU Internet

Chief Information Office Mr. Troy Donoway Explains DOS Attack

On March 4, 2017 Frostburg State University’s network security system (firewall) suffered a denial-of-service (DOS) attack.

A DOS attack is simply overflowing the system with useless internet traffic to effectively shut down the campus internet, both inbound and outbound traffic.

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The Bottom Line was able to sit down with Chief Information Officer, Troy Donoway, to further explain what a DOS attack is, and how it affected the campus last weekend.

He explained that there was no reason as to why Frostburg was picked as a target for this attack, and this is not the first attack the university has suffered from.  This particular attack was unique in the fact that the hardware vendor that worked with the university team trying to restore normal operations could not identify the source of the attack to block it.  Previous attacks have been resolved in minutes.

As the team was working to restore normal operations, the only thing affected on the student perspective was that internet seemed extremely slow.  Email and Blackboard operations continued as normal due to both platforms not being run by FSU.  The only way operations were affected was if you went to the university homepage to then try to log into your email or Blackboard.  Again, it only made the internet extremely slow for student users, no other operations were affected.

Mr. Donoway continued to reiterate that normal operations were not affected other than running slow.  He also explained that no data was compromised during this attack.   The Information Technology department is constantly looking for ways to improve the system, and to be ready for future DOS attacks.

These types of attacks are happening more and more around the country.  A second school in the USM suffered the same type of attack just two weeks ago.  At FSU over 75,000 attempted connections were blocked from foreign countries last week.

Mr. Donoway sent out a campus wide email first thing on March 6, explaining what had happened over the weekend.  The Information Technology recognizes that this is a very serious and important thing to be aware of, as well as being ready to deal with them.  They are always trying to continue to make the systems at FSU more reliable.

Once the source was identified during this particular attack, it was blocked, and normal operations resumed around 5 a.m. on Sunday, March 5.  Along with the hardware vendor trying to restore operations, Mr. Brian Jenkins, and Mr. Gary Trenum stayed up all night to find and to block the source of the DOS attack.

To reiterate, no data was compromised during this attack, and all operations have resumed as normal.

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