Yale’s Internet network came under attack Thursday evening after unknown hackers jammed the YaleSecure network for hours into the night.
Starting at 3:42 p.m. Yale’s network was flooded with a wave of “fake requests” — a kind of online notification that impedes an Internet server’s flow of information — from an outside source. As of 3 a.m., Yale continued to experience intermittent network connectivity problems. Yale Information Technology Services staff would not identify the source of these attacks to the News, but according to ITS, the majority of such attacks originate in China and Russia. Although Yale is regularly attacked by hackers, ITS hotline staffer Jason Bachman said that most attacks do not block the network entirely.
“It’s a game of cat and mouse at this point,” Bachman said, describing the hacker’s effect on the network as “just like clogging a toilet up with toilet paper.”
For each false request, ITS adjusts the protective firewall. Bachman said he expects that either the hackers will cease their efforts or ITS would successfully block them from the server.
Yale’s information security team will investigate whether the hackers, once identified, can be prosecuted under U.S. law, Bachman said. ITS reported unplanned network connectivity issues throughout the attack.
Students said the outage impeded their studies on Thursday night. As midterm exams approach, Cooper Sullivan ’18 said he was downloading class notes when the wireless Internet shut down. Sullivan said he was inconvenienced for several hours as he struggled to get online from his cell phone.
Students also decried the lack of communication from ITS in the wake of the hacking. Unlike the Yale Alerts that followed a campuswide power outage earlier this month, ITS did not notify the Yale community about the loss of wireless Internet access on Thursday night.
“Some update would have been nice,” Sullivan said. When he lost access, Sullivan wondered whether his password had been hacked.
Stephen Barmore ’18 said the lack of communication made him question whether his laptop was the cause of the problem, not the Yale network. Barmore, who was in class when the outage began, said he could no longer access the readings online, which hindered his participation.
The Yale ITS website contains a “system status” page with details about the functioning of Yale’s emails, servers and a myriad of technology services.