Internet restored, but ITS remains cautious
MVNU’s Information Technology Services (ITS) reports a clean bill of health for the online network since the nine-hour internet outage last Thursday.
However, the department’s computer technology experts cannot guarantee that MVNU has reached the other side of the crisis.
“While we did eliminate one of the potential causes, we cannot be sure we eliminated every potential cause,” said Director of ITS John Walchle. A guest laptop with faulty printing software was creating the disruption, he said.
But, Walchle assures the MVNU community that ITS is taking the proper precautions to prevent a recurrence.
“While we cannot guarantee the outage will not occur again, we are in a much better place to handle it now if it recurs than we were a few weeks ago,” he said.
The outage was caused when the device flooded the network with commands and scans at an extremely high rate. The firewall, a program that protects the network from unauthorized access, was unable to keep up with the attacks.
“This essentially shut down our connection to the internet as no traffic could get through the firewall,” Walchle said.
For external attacks, ITS would simply update the firewall to protect the network. But, because it was an internal device, ITS had no choice but to shut down the whole network to deal with the specific problem.
“Since the problematic device was internal to our system, we couldn’t block internal traffic without shutting down all of our internal resources,” Walchle said.
This resulted in two days without consistent internet access at MVNU.
The blackout began Wednesday when ITS began noticing issues around 10:15 a.m. Full internet access did not return until 5 p.m. that day. During this time students, faculty and staff were not able to access internal or external sites.
On Thursday the problem persisted and campus was disconnected from 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. After a few hours of access, MVNU was disconnected again from 1:55 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., almost nine and half hours.
During the crisis ITS took an “all hands on deck approach,” Walchle said. His team worked around the clock to diagnose the problem and return network connectivity to normal.
Assistant Director for Infrastructure Brian Payne was on the phone for over nine hours with support staff as they attempted to pinpoint the issue. Payne was on campus until 3 a.m. Friday morning trying to solve the crisis.
“As a director I am blessed to work with a dedicated technical staff whose primary concern is service to the constituents of MVNU,” Walchle said.
As the semester moves forward, Walchle recommends that students take precautions when using their personal or campus technology.
First, all students should be sure their device security is up to date to protect it from viruses, malware and spyware software.
He also encourages all students to scan flash drives after using them in another computer.
“Some viruses automatically install themselves on portable storage devices,” he said.
Walchle cautions all from clicking on foreign or suspicious links or downloading unknown attachments as they may contain a destructive virus.
Finally, “beware of phishing emails,” he said. These are spam messages that ask for personal information with the intent to defraud.
“MVNU IT staff will never ask you for your social security number or your username and password in an email,” Walchle said.
If any student, faculty or staff member receives a suspicious email, Walchle asks that they immediately contact the Helpdesk at firstname.lastname@example.org or extension 5555, to determine if it is a scam.