Cyberattack Partially Blamed For Miami-Dade County Public Schools Virtual Tech Issues

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CBS4 Miami | Joan Murray | September 1, 2020

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was a cyberattack. That is what caused problems for Miami-Dade County Public School students and teachers to get access to virtual platforms on Tuesday, for the second day in a row.

In a late afternoon news conference, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho explained Monday’s issue stemmed from the “catastrophic failure” of a Cisco software connectivity switch. He said “the root cause was system operating hardware that ran the switch had bad code and required an upgrade.” He said they worked through the night with Cisco and the issue was resolved. Tuesday, the switch was working “fairly well.”

However, Tuesday morning when students and teachers tried to get access to their virtual platforms for the second day of school, many could not.

Carvalho said there was an intermittent cyberattack that actually started around 8:00 a.m. Monday and continued through some of the day Tuesday.

It’s called a DDOS attack or a Distributed Denial of Service Attack, stated the Superintendent.

Comcast, which first claimed “there were no anomalies” later released a statement to apologize for the issues.

“Comcast has a longstanding relationship with the Miami Dade County Public Schools and we place tremendous value on the partnership we have built together over time.  We have worked together to connect tens of thousands of families to the internet, so any issue that could impact internet access is one that we take very seriously.  Comcast became aware of an issue impacting the Miami Dade School District network, causing many families to be unable to access the learning site as the school day began.  Given this took place during the beginning of school, we understand how important connectivity is for virtual learning during this unprecedented time.  We are continuing to monitor the situation and are working with the school district and law enforcement to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We sincerely apologize to the families, teachers and students who were kept offline.”

Comcast is now working to mitigate the cyberattack, which is a felony.

Carvalho said the FBI, FDLE and Secret Service have all be notified. A subpoena has been issued to Comcast for all records needed to determine the origin of the cyberattack.

He explained the DDOS caused a critical bottleneck where no one was able to get in but added despite the attack, the school district’s cyber wall held.

Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez said they are working to identify the culprits who contributed to this “mess”. He added they have an electronic road map to identify the source of the attack and will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.