Sorry Kids, Your Final Exam Has Been DDoS’d

It’s that time of year when Colleges and Universities are hustling and bustling with year-end activities such as graduation, senior occasions, final athletic events and countless ceremonies. It’s also the time when final exams are well underway. Perhaps it is a coincidence (or maybe quite the opposite) that we are hearing of several higher education institutions experiencing Internet service interruptions and outages due to DDoS attacks.  DDoS attack tools are easy to come by and even easier to use—perhaps a mechanism for delaying the dreaded College finals for an extra day or two to allow for one more cram session.

From a cyber security perspective, colleges and universities must maintain a delicate balance between the protection of sensitive information about their population, while maintaining networks and establish policies about their use. In addition to serving their large student populations, they have hundreds, sometimes thousands of employees, including academics, researchers, service personnel, physical plant workers and even police.

At the same time, IT security personnel must allow and facilitate the free and open flow of ideas and information that is essential in an academic environment, while protecting sensitive personal and business records, and intellectual property. The recent onslaught of DDoS attacks against these academic networks has tested the resiliency of these complex and sometimes ‘open’ networks.

Academic institutions need to prepare themselves against the inevitable damage of DDoS attacks—and the steps for proper protection can be easily obtained. An inline DDoS first line of defense to inspect traffic and surgically remove the attacks at the network edge will allow good user traffic to flow as intended, and eliminate the service outage issues that are flooding the headlines as of late. 

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