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UND website target of apparent cyberattack

GRAND FORKS — North Dakota University System staff members were working to protects schools after the University of North Daktoa's website was hit by a cyberattack that shut down its website this week.

The website, UND.edu, became unresponsive at about 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 9, after what is believed to be a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), according to UND spokesman Brandon Beyer.

A DDoS attack floods a targeted host with requests from multiple sources to overwhelm the system and prevent it from functioning properly.

In an email to North Dakota University System presidents, Chancellor Mark Hagerott called the attack "sustained and targeted."

UND was the only school in the North Dakota University System to be hit by the cyberattack, according to NDUS Communications Director Billie Jo Lorius.

School officials on Tuesday did not have any suspects or motives for the attack.

Hagerott told system presidents NDUS technology services has been working with UND to combat the attack and that system leaders held four meetings with companies that specialize in DDoS mitigation Tuesday. NDUS hopes to have a solution quickly implemented systemwide, according to the email.

"Our intent, based on the evaluation of the solutions, is to determine how we stop the attack at UND in the short term and have a system in place that other institutions could use if (when?) they are DDoSed," Hagerott wrote.

The website had intermittently been working Tuesday afternoon, and the homepage appeared to be functioning as normal shortly after 2 p.m. The homepage was the most affected portion of the website, Beyer said.

University officials said that while problems have been less pervasive Tuesday afternoon, they still are dealing with some effects of the attack and don't want to declare the issue fully resolved.

"Disruptions to the website were sporadic," Beyer said.

Blackboard, a site used by staff and students for online assignments and tests, is working, according to Beyer. The UND athletics webpage also was not affected by the attack. University email has not been impacted during the attack.

UND currently is redirecting those seeking to turn in online applications for undergraduate and graduate admissions and schedule campus tours to alternate links posted on social media.

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