The Stack Archive

UK Universities’ network taken down by DDoS cyber attack

Tue 8 Dec 2015

University library

A number of leading British education establishments connected to the publicly-funded academic network Janet have been cut off from the internet in a sustained direct denial of service (DDoS) cyber attack.

The attacks, which were first detected last Friday, took down online education portals, internet connections, assignment submission platforms including Turnitin, and email services. Despite returning to good service, on Monday the attacks recommenced and disruptions have continued into Tuesday afternoon.

Campuses, fire services and some council offices across the UK were affected by the attack which pulled down all Janet-operated sites listed as .ac.uk and .gov.uk domains, Janet’s own website, as well as the international higher education Wi-Fi roaming service eduroam.

Janet is funded by the public organisation Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc). Updates have been posted via the body’s major incidents Twitter account. The feed noted this afternoon that – “There has been some improvement but services are still at risk.”

Jisc has reported that its engineers and security teams are working to set up blocks to prevent connections from the DDoS source, as well as taking care to ensure access to the network. Jisc were unable to provide an estimated time when the service would be restored due to the nature of the issue.

IT Services at Manchester University alerted its students to the issue, adding that “The occurrence of these incidents highlight the fact that issues with cyber security are a very real threat.”

As the semester comes to a close, some students have reported missing their deadlines, unable to access essay submission platforms.

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This is the same type of attack that crippled TalkTalk servers on the 21st October. The DDoS campaign took down the service and allowed hackers to access tens of thousands of customers’ personal details, including banking credentials. Four suspects have now been arrested in relation to the cyber attack. TalkTalk has reported a cost of around £35 million.


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