Hesston College network experiences cyber attack

Cheri Baer — Horizon News Editor

“Error: Denial of Service”

In early November, off campus students became all too familiar with this message when they tried to access Moodle, Hesston’s online learning management system. In the days that followed, faculty and students found they couldn’t get online either as IT worked with our network provider, KanREN, to figure out the problem.

What happened? Russ Neufeld, director of information technology, updated the campus in a Nov. 4 email: 

“The outage was caused by a massive attack (by far the largest we’ve seen with more than 100 times normal campus network traffic loads), launched by many thousands of infected PC’s all over the internet, focused on crippling our network.”

That massive attack continued throughout the week, and while IT dealt with the problem, Hesston internet access was iffy at best.

As KanREN informed Hesston IT, what probably happened is that a person paid a computer virus entrepreneur to swarm a network. This computer virus entrepreneur had access to thousands of infected PC’s from all parts of the globe, which he then used to launch an attack on the system. The instigator probably paid a lot of money for the service, and got the desired result.

But not for long. IT solved the problem by the weekend, changing our Moodle website name to moodlehc.hesston.edu.

IT then brought our servers up, restoring internet access on campus and ending the cyber attack problems.

This isn’t the only difficulty that IT has faced with in the last year. In July, Russ Neufeld, director of IT, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Gil Oliva, Hesston’s system administrator, says that throughout the dramatic events, IT work has remained normal.

“We are certain that God is in control,” he said. “Evidence of that is that Russ is going thru treatment and progressing well, and we all have had a relatively smooth transition into our different roles and responsibilities.”

Oliva, whose wife Cecilia and son Gilberto will finally join him in the U.S. after a year waiting in Brazil for visa approval, seems unfazed.  

“These challenging events have only strengthened our faith in God and our commitment to the college.”

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