The computer network that supports academic services at Britain’s universities has suffered its worst ever cyber attack, knocking out much of the network and seriously disrupting work at several institutions.
The network, known as Janet, is responsible for running the UK’s .ac.uk domains, as well as many .gov.uk domains. On Monday it suffered a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber attack, which involves bringing down a web service by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.
A similar attack occurred in October, when hackers brought down the TalkTalk service, allowing them to steal the passwords of tens of thousands of customers.
A spokeswoman for JISC, the company that runs Janet, told Breitbart London that although attempted DDoS attacks are relatively common on the network, they have never witnessed one on this scale before.
The company’s Twitter account tweeted updates yesterday as the services slowly went back online, but they have now stopped tweeting over fears that the information was being used to inform new attacks.
JISC is also remaining tight-lipped about who could be behind the attacks, telling Breitbart London they could not comment at this time as there is now a criminal investigation under way. The spokeswoman also refused to speculate on where the attacks were coming from and what the motivation of the attackers could be.
At time of writing most services are back online, including the main JISC website, but JISC admitted that the service is still not fully operation, and there is as yet to time frame as to when it could be back to normal.
Some students have complained about missing deadlines or being unable to work due to the attack.
when the uni internet goes down and you can't submit your deadline….
— Helen Prince (@ImHelenPrince) December 8, 2015
Tim Kidd, JISC Executive Director, said in a statement: “We understand the importance of connectivity to colleges, universities and other public sector organisations.
“We are doing everything in our power to ensure normal service in resumed as soon as possible, and in the meantime to minimise any disruption that users of the Janet network may be experiencing. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”