Miami-Dade Public Schools ‘continues to be targeted by cyber attacks,’ district officials say

Miami-Dade County Public Schools reported more issues Wednesday on the third day of online learning.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade County Public Schools reported more issues Wednesday on the third day of online learning.

“M-DCPS continues to be targeted by cyber attacks,” the school district posted to Twitter. “Multiple attempts have been made this morning. The District’s security and safeguard measures have been successful thus far. The 200,000 students who have successfully logged on are asked to remain logged on. Students and teachers who are having trouble logging on are asked to use the alternative log in method provided earlier this week.”

According to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Tuesday’s issues also were related to an issue with their service provider, Comcast.

“Comcast has a longstanding relationship with the Miami Dade County Public Schools and we place tremendous value on the partnership we have built together over time,” a statement from the company read. “We have worked together to connect tens of thousands of families to the internet, so any issue that could impact internet access is one that we take very seriously. Comcast became aware of an issue impacting the Miami Dade School District network, causing many families to be unable to access the learning site as the school day began. Given this took place during the beginning of school, we understand how important connectivity is for virtual learning during this unprecedented time. We are continuing to monitor the situation and are working with the school district and law enforcement to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We sincerely apologize to the families, teachers and students who were kept offline.”

Carvalho said a Cisco switch issue was the main problem on Monday.

“Our primary focus is to remain actively engaged to provide whatever additional product or service support is required,” a Cisco spokesperson said in a statement.

School Board member Steve Gallon, who is also vice chair of the board, said they want answers.

“My number one question will not simply be about the attack, but about what provisions and policies and practices we have in place to mitigate and abate those particular attacks,” he said.

Gallon said M-DCPS is the fourth largest school district in the nation with a $5.5 billion budget and nearly 275,000 students, so it’s fair to anticipate schools would be a target to cyber attacks.

He expects there to be a larger conversation not just about the attacks, but about the overall readiness of schools to reopen online, which Gallon has seen as an utter failure.

“These are issues that manifested themselves not simply Monday,” he said. “We’ve had some challenges relative to this particular platform as early as last week.”

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.