Cyberattack crippled Kentucky Department of Education's Infinite Campus network

jwarren@herald-leader.comAugust 30, 2013 

A cyberattack on the Kentucky Department of Education's Infinite Campus information network has been keeping thousands of parents from accessing data online about their schoolchildren.

Private student data was not compromised, department officials said.

David Couch, the education department's chief information officer, said Friday night that workers were beginning to restore access, and that they hoped to have repairs completed by the time schools reopen after the Labor Day holiday.

He described the incident as "denial of service" attacks designed to disable the Infinite Campus system, not an attempt to access information about students. The first signs of trouble appeared late last week, and the situation became serious early this week, officials said.

Couch said the perpetrator or perpetrators basically tricked "hundreds of thousands of computers" around the world into sending signals to the Infinite Campus parent portal. That's the part of the system that lets parents access children's school information online.

Twin firewalls that guard the Infinite Campus system stopped the messages from getting through, Couch said. But he said the huge influx of traffic "jammed up" the firewalls.

Couch compared it to "25 million people suddenly trying to enter the Kroger store in Versailles."

Thanks to the firewalls, however, the attackers couldn't get into personal student and family information on Infinite Campus, Couch said.

By Friday afternoon, parents in about 50 small to medium-size school districts in Kentucky's Eastern time zone were still unable to check their children's grades, attendance and other information. But Couch said Friday night that the system was coming back into operation.

Access by parents in the Fayette County Public Schools was not affected, district officials said Friday. But the district's Web site went down several times as a byproduct of the incident, and at times district employees had trouble getting on the Internet, officials said.

Mike Burke, the Fayette School's technology director, said some student testing that required Internet access also was hampered.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service