University of Georgia hit by cyberattack

The University of Georgia was the victim of a cyberattack Sunday night which blocked all Internet access for everyone on campus using the school’s network.

The DDOS — distributed denial of service — attack came from outside UGA’s network, and began about 6:10 p.m., according to an email sent Monday by Timothy Chester, UGA’s vice president for information technology.

A DDOS attack floods a target’s computer network with traffic, leaving the victim’s use of its websites and computer systems unavailable. During the incident, the university’s entire 20 gigabytes per second of Internet capacity was saturated with outside network traffic, which blocked access campus users.

UGA purchases its Internet connectivity through a nonprofit consortium, called Southern Crossroads, which is operated by Georgia Tech. School officials worked with Southern Crossroads to isolate the attack and began blocking it about 10 p.m., Chester’s message said. The attack ended shortly after that. As of Monday morning, officials had found no evidence that systems or data maintained by UGA had been compromised.

Colleges and universities have increasingly been the target of these types of cyberattacks. Last year, Rutgers University students requested tuition refunds after the school experienced its fifth DDOS attack in a year. Arizona State University was also hit by a DDOS attack in April, blocking access to its Internet network a week before final exams. Some campuses are not currently equipped to identify DDOS attacks, and may not have a method for effectively mitigating them, industry experts say.

“I personally regret that many of you experienced a disruption as you were preparing homework, getting ready for class or doing other University work and I offer my apologies,” Chester said to the campus community in the message.

UGA plans to review the incident with federal, state and local law enforcement, and work with the University System of Georgia on reducing the risks of these types of attacks in the future.