Cyber attack on county-wide network shuts down internet connection

By Jessica Buxbaum

Students and faculty across Montgomery County couldn’t complete planned classwork because of intermittent loss of internet service Sept. 25 and 26 after an an outside source issued a cyber-attack on the county-wide network, MCPS Chief Technology Officer Pete Cevenini reported.

These types of cyber-attacks are relatively common, according to Cevenini, and didn’t threaten student data or private information.

“It was difficult and very disruptive, but all it did was shut down the network at the front door. There was no serious damage to our network,” Cevenini said. “But we had to have people staying, pulling all nighters both nights to try to mitigate things and get things back in working order.”

Without internet, teachers were forced to adjust lesson plans last minute.

“I have a video documentary that’s fun and engaging that I like to use to introduce our new unit,” social studies teacher Kirk Shipley said. “But, without the internet being up, I had to scramble to give this really unfinished, unpolished powerpoint and just have the kids take notes.”

Internet outages left other classes completely handicapped.

“We really couldn’t do anything,” computer programming student Saira Rathod said. “The whole class depends on using the computers everyday and the teacher didn’t have another lesson, so everyone just talked or did other homework.”

County employees halted the attack Sept. 27 and MCPS technology officers are confident that they’ve secured the network against future threats, Cevenini said.