According to a CNED press release (National Center for Distance Education), it is a series of cyberattacks which would be responsible for the saturation of the platform “My Class at home”, Tuesday April 6, the first day of the resumption of distance learning. The minister first spoke of attacks “coming from abroad“, before there is no further allusion to this hypothesis. ministry press release evokes “of malicious acts and an influx of visitors“.
If they are indeed cyberattacks, for lack of more detailed technical explanations from the ministry at this time, we can assume that they are “denial of service” (DDoS) attacks. It is a classic of cybermalveillance which is characterized by a massive influx of simultaneous connections having 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 a malicious act, 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. We 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 not sufficient 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 at regional level, and entrusted to external providers. Pupils encountered significant difficulties in connecting to ENTs, particularly 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 link with the fire in a data center of the operator OVH several weeks ago in Strasbourg. But the boss of OVH, Michel Paulin, did not appreciate and reacted in a tweet, saying that it had “no link“.
All this shows the difficulty of the National Education to cope with a rapid increase in distance education services. We remember that last year, during the first confinement, the servers did not hold up either. In general, to deal with this kind of situation, you need anticipation and budgets.