#CyberFLASH: Next year’s Ontario literacy test will be paper-only as investigation into cyber attack continues

gv_20140408_biv0108_140409938.jpg__0x400_q95_autocrop_crop-smart_subsampling-2_upscaleAfter widespread technical issues forced the cancellation of the first-ever online Ontario literacy test earlier this year, the agency tasked with administering the exam says next year’s version will be paper only.

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) said Friday it would be temporarily shelving the online version of the test after its October launch was marred by a cyberattack. The organization said it still hasn’t successfully completed a large enough trial of the system since the attack and doesn’t know when the online version will be ready to use.

“Given the considerable frustration and anxiety that resulted from the cyberattack, EQAO feels that it would be irresponsible to put students at risk of any further issues without having completed a successful large-scale online trial,” the agency said in a news release.

The announcement comes after a brand new system for administering the test online crashed in October, leaving many students unable to complete the test.

The EQAO said the network was the target of an “intentional, malicious and sustained” cyberattack involving a “vast set of IP addresses around the globe.”

Most of the province’s 900 secondary schools — representing some 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.

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#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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