Cyberattack caused IC internet connection to cut out

Throughout the day April 19, a cyberattack caused internet connection at Ithaca College to cut out intermittently, disrupting operations across campus.

In an Information Technology Service Ticket, Angel Gavidia, associate director in the Department of Applications and Infrastructure, said a distributed denial-of-service attack on the college network overloaded the system and caused it to fail. The internet’s inconsistent function forced entities across campus to shut down temporarily or change their operations, including the library, classes, certain retail dining locations and the Center for Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS).

“The Ithaca College network was subject to a distributed denial-of-service attack from threat actors on the internet,” Gavidia said in the service ticket. “The Information Security team and the Network team have implemented measures to mitigate the attack and will investigate other options to limit or prevent future attacks.”

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a denial-of-service attack occurs when an individual or group deliberately floods a network with traffic, making it inaccessible to users or causing it to crash. There is no way to completely prepare for this kind of attack, but security measures can be taken to control traffic, protect information and detect when an attack may be coming.

According to an email from IT sent to students, the outage affected internet on campus and services off campus including Canvas, Zoom and apps in the Office 365 suite. According to the IT website, throughout the day issues were also reported with Degreeworks, IC Workflow, My IC Health and the Robo Registrar.

Senior Fatima David, a student employee at the IT service desk, said the issues began around 1:45 p.m. and persisted throughout the afternoon. During this time, IT worked with service vendors to determine the cause of the outages and a solution to the issue.

In an email to students at 4 p.m., IT said service had been partially restored. and the issue would be further troubleshot with vendors at about 5:30 p.m. Between midnight and 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, the internet was again disrupted for scheduled maintenance. 

Junior Stephanie Monteiro said she had a CAPS appointment at 3:30 p.m. on Zoom that was canceled because of the outages. She said she received an email just before the appointment from her counselor saying that the lack of internet and My IC Health failures made the appointment impossible.

Allison Frisch, associate professor in the Department of Journalism, said she was forced to dismiss one of her investigative journalism classes early due to an inability to consistently connect to the internet.

Frisch said the plan for the class was to read an article and to watch a documentary that were both online, but the only thing she was able to do successfully was give a short presentation. The students in the class attempted to troubleshoot the issue by connecting the class computer to different networks, but nothing worked.

“We were wanting to watch an installment of [a documentary] and we got it started, but it just wouldn’t play, so we decided to just end class at that point,” Frisch said.

Monteiro, who is a student in Frisch’s investigative journalism class, said she was disappointed to miss out on class.

Monteiro said she feels that internet issues are not an uncommon problem on campus and they can be really disruptive.

“I feel like there’s a lot of problems with the Wi-Fi and it’s such a basic necessity for us to do anything in this day and age,” Monteiro said, “It’s probably sort of up there [in the college’s priorities] but it just seems like there’s regularly a problem.”

Freshman student employee Michelle Engler said that at the library, the outage caused printers to fail and the library operating system to not function. Engler said any time a student wanted to check anything out during the outages, like books and other library resources, employees had to manually copy the information on paper, including reference numbers, student ID numbers and student names.

Freshman Destiny Carrion, a student employee at the Park Cafe in Roy H. Park Hall, said the cafe closed early because they were unable to take any orders. The cafe, which is usually open until 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, was forced to close at about 1:30 p.m. because of a lack of connection on the tablets that allow them to access Grubhub and see student orders. Carrion was able to continue working after closing the cafe and was cleaning things up for the day at around 3:15 p.m.

“We couldn’t connect to Grubhub and nobody could place orders and we weren’t able to see what people want to order, so we weren’t able to serve anything since we don’t do anything via Registrar,” Carrion said. “Usually we start getting a little bit of a rush around like 3:10 [p.m.], 3:15 [p.m.] before we close, so we did miss out.”

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