Rutgers adopts ’emergency grading’ policy due to cyber attack
With final exams set to begin, the Rutgers University Information Technology team says they have successfully ended "persistent" cyber attacks that have crippled the school's internet network.
A Friday morning update posted on the Office of Information Technology's website reported that "network services are continuing to return to normal."
However, in an email sent to students and staff just before 12 noon from Chancellor Richard L. Edwards, Ph.D. was not as optimistic. "While we are optimistic that our IT teams will resolve this situation soon, I have been working with the academic deans to assist our faculty in preparing contingency plans to minimize the impact potential further disruptions may have on your coursework this semester, focusing, in particular, on courses that plan to offer online exams or those that rely heavily on online resources for final assignments," wrote Edwards.
Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Provost Todd R. Clear of the Rutgers Newark campus announced an emergency grading policy for the spring semester. In an online post Thursday, they said the move is aimed at preventing students' grades from being "victimized" by the Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that have plagued the campus this week.
Rutgers will allow the option of a handwritten final exam and faculty can offer the choice of taking a course grade without the final. Professors can also offer the option of taking an incomplete and completing a course's requirements after the DDOS problem is solved. On-line students will have the option of a pass/fail grade instead of a letter grade.
The network, which first started having problems on Monday, continues to be slow for those trying to access campus wi-fi and those trying to use the Sakai website, described as the "one stop shop for courses, research projects, committees, and other collaborative activities."
The last update from Don Smith, Vice President of the school's Office of Information Technology admitted that network service remains "degraded" due to persistent and ongoing distributed DDoS attacks. "We are making progress towards restoring all network services to normal operating status and working with the Chancellors to develop contingency plans for online exams," said the message posted late Thursday afternoon on the Ruters IT site and emailed to staff and students.
Smith explained that his staff has taken steps to reduce the DDoS with hardware upgrades and web server improvements. "Simultaneously, OIT and the Rutgers Police Department are actively working in consultation with the FBI and the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness to investigate the source of the attacks," wrote Smith.
Students and staff, while supportive of the IT team's efforts, are frustrated. "These Web attacks are absolutely outrageous and I hope that the perpetrator is caught soon. It's an assault on the entire campus community posted Daniel Kurz on the IT Facebook page. Seth Deneroff wrote that "services have gotten worse than they started... At first internet was just down and I could use sakai etc from outside the rutgers network fine.. now I can't even do that."
It has also caused students trying to complete term projects and papers to use alternate means to access the internet."It's really putting us back from actively studying on the computers and websites," first-year student Erin Swann told the Daily Targum, Rutgers' student newspaper "We have to go out of our way to get things done to compensate."
Some professors are making accomodations for the internet issue and others are not. Jaclyn Bird of West Deptford takes partial blame for getting caught up in the problem. “I don’t think lack of Internet on campus will be a valid excuse,” Bird told NorthJersey.com “He would probably want us to not procrastinate the way I did.”
Rutgers will issue another update on the internet issue on Friday morning.
- Rutgers students respond to latest DDoS attack / Daily Targum
- Rutgers making contingency plans for final exams as Internet outages continue / NorthJersey.com