Cybersecurity concerns for students

‘Significant security concern’ prompted internet outage at University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, MI – A “significant security concern” prompted the University of Michigan to shut down the internet on the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses, officials said Monday afternoon.

The Information Assurance team at the university, which fights cybersecurity threats and malicious actors, identified the concern on Sunday, Aug. 27. The internet was shut down at 1:45 p.m. that day.

“We took this action to provide our information technology teams the space required to address the issue in the safest possible manner,” university officials said Aug. 28 in a message to the community.

Read more: Internet outage affects first day of University of Michigan classes

Some systems, such as the university’s Google, Canvas, Zoom, Adobe Cloud, Dropbox, Slack and other services have been restored as of Aug. 28, officials said. The estimated full restoration of campus wireless internet and systems such as MPathways, eResearch and DART could still be several days ahead, officials said.

Not all university areas are equally impacted, officials said, as Michigan Medicine’s clinical applications are functional and no patient care has been disrupted.

Classes are going on as scheduled Aug. 28 on all three campuses, university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said. An internet portal was created to ensure students know their course schedules and locations. It can be accessed at

Students will not be punished with late registration or disenrollment fees through the month of August, officials said. Financial aid refunds may be delayed through the outage, officials said.

Other campus operations such as residence halls, dining facilities, classroom buildings and university offices are still operational, officials said.

The University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security, as well as federal law enforcement partners, are involved in the investigation of the security concerns.

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Q&A: Feds ‘Finally’ Get Serious About K-12 Cybersecurity

As both the senior IT director for the nonprofit Digital Promise and board chair for the Consortium for School Networking, Diane Doersch has heard her share of overtures about school cybersecurity, but this time she’s optimistic.

At an Aug. 7 summit in Washington, D.C., Doersch saw the U.S. Department of Education and the White House announce a K-12 federal cybersecurity resilience program that will include $200 million in grants over a three-year period for cybersecurity fortification measures, training and assessments of K-12 entities, plus a variety of other free resources for schools and public libraries. The department is in the process of creating a Government Coordinating Council to work with local, state, tribal and territorial governments, which in turn will establish further plans to help schools protect themselves from cyber attacks.

Through her work with CoSN and Digital Promise, Doersch has spent years educating K-12 communities with tight budgets and limited resources on how to work together and promote responsible digital citizenship among administrators, teachers and students. Doersch is well-entrenched in this realm but has never witnessed a cybersecurity initiative of this magnitude before.She discussed her experience with Government Technology on Wednesday. Her responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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