NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers students are frustrated with the university’s lackluster cybersecurity, considering the school raised tuition in part to fund $3 million worth of network upgrades after several cyberattacks brought the school to a screeching halt last semester.
But on September 28, Rutgers University experienced another distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, the fifth such attack in less than a year. That attack shut down the school’s wireless internet service, and many other services from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. and again from 10 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m.
The university acknowledged that it was “not well protected” during the first four attacks, but had said it had since begun pouring millions of dollars into its cybersecurity efforts, as we reported.
This spending was cited as one of the main reasons Rutgers University’s Board of Governos approved a 2.3% increase in tutition for the 2015-2016 year.
Rutgers engineering student Riccardo Mui started a change.org petition imploring Rutgers President Robert Barchi to refund the ineffectual tuition hike.
Mui comes from a humble background, raised by an immigrant father who could not support him through college.
This is his take on the DDoS attack:
Since I came to college, I expected at least decent internet speeds, and while it usually holds up, we get DDoS attacks every time an exam rolls around. Now I would not say anything, yet I feel the need to tell all the students to join together to either get a refund or to make Rutgers change something on their own time. Why? Because Rutger’s spent over 3 million on upgrading the network, yet only 160,000 actually went to physical upgrades. Also, they used Incapsula as a DSoS attack defender, which is decent for websites, but definitely not for a University. Besides, we literally wasted all of our money because as soon as an attack was launched, it took down the network. Since there was a tuition increase, it is only fair that we get that money back.
The petition reached 300 signatures within an hour, and 750 signatures within the first fifteen hours, and now has more than 1,000 signatures.
The “Reasons for Signing” section is telling. Some students were simply angry that the university did not provide what they felt they deserved.
Others suspected that the school did not even invest the money in cybersecurity at all.
David Park commented, “Only a small percentage of the 3 million raised was actually used to improve Rutgers’ cyber defense system. If Rutgers doesn’t actually use all the money it’s raised from increasing the tuition for its actual purpose, refund the students.”
Several students brought up Rutgers’ habit of spending big on athletics.
For example, Chetan Kini wrote, “You can’t increase my tuition and then have something like this occur; it’s unacceptable. I’m pretty sure you gave my money to the damn football team since that’s where all our funding goes.”
As Leslie Brighton said, “If Don Smith [Rutgers’s Vice President of Information Technology] was doing his job, I wouldn’t even know who he was.”