DORAL, FL – Miami-Dade Schools suffered cyberattacks in addition to software malfunction during the first days of classes which resulted in a wave of parents, teachers and students frustrated and angry by a rocky back to school.
The announcement was made on Tuesday, Sept.1, by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho at the School Board headquarters in Downtown Miami where he explained the district was a target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack during the first two days of distance learning when thousands of students connected to My School Online to start a new school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This information was learned by the district on Tuesday after Comcast, which is M-DCPS’s Internet Service Provider, revealed its findings.
According to a statement of Miami-Dade Schools, this type of attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a network by overwhelming the target with a flood of Internet traffic. Additional mitigation strategies have been put into place with Comcast to prevent future attacks.
Also, the statement provided peace of mind to the school community assuring no student or employee personal data was accessed during the attack.
The software malfunction, attributed to an issue with Cisco Systems, blocked access to the district’s servers which made many teachers and students receive error messages throughout the first two days of classes wasting time and energy trying to connect. Some classes had a teacher with no students or the other way around.
Alberto Carvalho explained during his intervention that district officials were in conversations with representatives from K12, the company that runs the My School Online platform, to resolve the issue and had received assurances from the company that the platform will work smoothly from now on.
The Miami Herald reported the software malfunction was “100% resolved and optimized”, as expressed by Carvalho, while the simultaneous DDoS attack created a “bottleneck of system requests that overwhelmed servers and locked students and teachers out.”
M-DCPS said the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department is leading the criminal investigation and working jointly with the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was also notified.
“Investigators are seeking to identify the individuals responsible and pursue prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” reads the statement.
Although it is expected to have an optimal third day of school, parents, teachers and students are encouraged to use alternative means of online learning such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom if problems with the platform continue to arise.