#CyberFLASH: EQAO says ‘intentional, malicious’ cyberattack led to literacy test system crash

computer-gimbalThe Ontario agency tasked with administering the first online literacy test to tens of thousands of high school students in the province last week says it was forced to pull the plug by an “intentional, malicious and sustained” cyberattack.

The Education Quality and Accountability Office said Monday the network hosting the “voluntary” online test was targeted by an “extremely large volume of traffic from a vast set of IP addresses around the globe.”

It said the impact of the distributed denial of service attack carried out by “an unknown entity or entities” was to block
legitimate users such as school boards and students from accessing the test.

Most of the province’s 900 secondary schools — representing a maximum of 147,000 students — had signed up to participate in the test, which was a technical trial run before the first official test scheduled next year.

The EQAO’s director of assessment said some 15,000 students appeared to have managed to complete the test, and the agency is currently reviewing the data to see whether the results can later be released. However, there will not be time for another trial test before the spring, Richard Jones said.

There is no evidence at this time that the incident was linked to a similar cyberattack that affected websites such as Twitter and Netflix on Friday, Jones said.

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