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FDLE: FSA delays caused by cyber attacks

Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement investigating claims, cannot confirm cyber attack at this time

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Education announced Monday that it is investigating testing delays caused by cyber attacks on a server used to administer the Florida Standards Assessment.

But on Tuesday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it could not confirm that the testing issues were the result of a cyber crime.

"While most Florida students are continuing to test successfully, we now know that some of the delays in testing late last week were due to cyber-attacks on our testing system operated by American Institutes for Research (AIR)," said education commissioner Pam Stewart. "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. We are holding daily conference calls with AIR to ensure they immediately address any flaws or attacks on our system as we move forward in this second week of testing."

Public school districts in South Florida delayed online testing last week after multiple schools reported students were having log-in issues.

Stewart previously said the issues were due to AIR updating its system the day before testing began.

"Sometime Wednesday and Thursday we noticed strong anomalies in terms of a surge of internet activity coming in the direction of our servers and our firewalls protected it," said Stewart. "It insulated the system from those surges of Internet activity, but they were anomalous enough for us to report them to federal entities."

Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he notified the FBI which led to a one-on-one conversation with the state's education commissioner.

"I find it interesting that there is synchronicity between the anomaly observed here in Miami-Dade County in terms of Internet surge activity and the alleged cyber attack in Tallahassee," said Carvalho.

Florida's Department of Law Enforcement continues to investigate the possible cyber attack.

A similar cyber attack happened in Kansas last year, which forced the state to suspend its exams until the issues were fixed.

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