Rutgers weathers another cyberattack

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The computer systems at Rutgers University are up and running again after last week’s cyberattack, the sixth successful breach in the past 14 months.

The hacks don’t appear to be targeting student data or financial records. Instead, they are called distributed denial of service attacks, designed to cripple Rutgers’ servers by flooding them with outside requests.

The school reportedly beefed up its cybersecurity budget by $2 million to $3 million for this academic year, bringing in outside contractors to help plug up its holes. The costs were included as part of a 2.3 percent tuition increase.

“There is never a totally secure-proof system or solution out there,” says Drexel University professor Rob D’Ovidio, a cybersecurity expert. “If anything, these systems are secure for limited periods of time, and we are certainly seeing that here.”

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The IT problems at Rutgers began in November 2014, followed by major attacks in the spring of this year, when student email and Internet access were disrupted. Students have voiced frustration at both the hacker and the university for the repeated breaches.

D’Ovidio said these types of cybersecurity attacks are a threat to a range of large institutions, including banks, retailers and higher education.

“They are certainly not unique,” he said. “I don’t think we should walk away saying Rutgers is inept in terms of its running of its network and infrastructure and the security around that infrastructure.”

A hacker who goes by the name Exfocus has claimed credit for previous attacks, though it’s unclear who is responsible for the latest incident.

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