According to a statement from the CNED (National Center for Distance Education), it is a series of cyberattacks that would be responsible for the saturation of the platform “My Class at home”, Tuesday April 6, on the first day of the resumption of distance learning. The minister first spoke of attacks “coming from abroad“, before there was no further allusion to this hypothesis. A ministry press release mentions”of malicious acts and an influx of visitors“.
If these are indeed cyber attacks, for lack of a more detailed technical explanation from the ministry at this time, we might think that these are “denial of service” (DDoS) attacks. It is a classic of cyber malware which is characterized by a massive influx of simultaneous connections which have the effect of saturating the servers. The effect is even more pronounced when added to the millions of connection requests from the students themselves. The ministry speaks of an act of malicious intent, which opens the hypothesis of people having provoked this to deliberately create chaos.
A denial of service attack is not necessarily very difficult to trigger. By means of finance, we find tools for this in the “bottomlands” of the internet. You can even give the impression that it comes from abroad. A denial of service attack is even more likely to be successful if there are insufficient protections, or if the servers are not sufficiently sized.
Another problem arose with ENT, the “digital work environments”. These are not managed directly by the national education services but are decentralized to the regional level, and entrusted to external providers. Students encountered significant difficulties in connecting to ENTs, especially in the Hauts-de-France, Île-de-France, Grand-Est, Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie regions. Wednesday morning, according to a press release from the ministry, there were still slowdowns in Île de France and the Grand-Est region.
On Tuesday, Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer made the connection with the fire at a data center operated by the operator OVH several weeks ago in Strasbourg. But OVH boss Michel Paulin didn’t like it and reacted in a tweet, saying it didn’t “no link“.
All this shows how difficult it is for the National Education Department to cope with a rapid increase in distance education services. We remember that last year, during the first lockdown, the servers did not hold up either. In general, dealing with this kind of situation requires planning and budgets.