Some of the problems that users faced on a new online testing system for Florida students were due to a cyber attack, officials said earlier this week.
The American Institutes for Research detected the attack March 5 after winning a six-year contract with the state worth $220 million to produce the test. Earlier in the week, administrators across the state had trouble logging into the new testing system, and students also reported being kicked off prematurely. A report in The Florida Times-Union, however, identified those difficulties as unrelated.
During the cyber attack Thursday, students reported seeing blank computer screens after logging in. The problem didn’t last long, however — most students were able to complete the writing portion of the Florida Standards Assessment that day.
State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said she immediately contacted the state’s Department of Law Enforcement after learning the issues were cyber-related.
“The department has been working with FDLE since last Thursday when we were notified about the problem, and we will continue to provide them with any information possible to ensure they identify the bad actors and hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Stewart said. “We are holding daily conference calls with American Institutes for Research to ensure they immediately address any flaws or attacks on our system as we move forward in this second week of testing.”
American Institutes for Research said the denial-of-service attack did not compromise any student data, and any outages will not affect student scores on the test. According to The Florida Times-Union, the company also took responsibility for the technical glitches Monday and Tuesday, and worked to address the state’s concerns.