The Digital Attack Map “presents data gathered and published by Arbor Networks ATLAS global threat intelligence system” and shows all the DDoS attacks that happen around the world on any given day. It shows the source, target and duration of any DDoS attacks on that day.
A typical day like October 19th looks like this:
As you can see there were three DDoS attacks that day, targeting Brazil, The US and Great Britain. As is typical the sources of the attacks are routed through countries all around the world.
Here is the Digital Attack Map for October 20th, the day EQAO said the OSSLT was taken down by a DDOS:
As you can see this map looks very different. There is some distributed traffic and an attack centred on Turkey, but no attacks converging on Canada. Not one.
Again, this looks quite different than the activity of October 20th when the OSSLT was cancelled.
So what can we make of this? There are only a few options.
The Digital Attack Map may be wrong. Arbour admits that while the “data represented in the Digital Attack Map is sourced from one of the most complete data sets available, it is an incomplete picture. The data may misidentify or exclude attack activity, and is intended to present high level trends in significant attacks as they are observed by Arbor Networks”.
There may have been an insignificant attack that doesn’t show on the map, but then EQAO’s system should have been able to withstand an insignificant attack.
After some trials in March of 2016, EQAO scheduled a large scale trial of The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) on October 20th and was set to accommodate up to 250,00 students in two sittings. It was a no-lose proposition for any students that chose to write it, because if they passed the online version they could avoid writing the test in its regular pencil and paper version in March, 2017. If they failed, they could still write it again later.
The day before EQAO was confident they were prepared for any potential technical issues:
At 6:23 pm on October 20th EQAO released an official statement apologizing for the cancellation, saying they didn’t know what had happened and would be investigating the cause. Over ten hours since they’d known there was a problem and EQAO still hadn’t figured out what happened.
Since then the students and educators involved, and the province in general, have been trying to figure out exactly what happened. Education Minister Mitzie Hunter called it “extremely disappointing” and Education Critic Lisa Gretzky wondered about the costs of the failed test:
Around all this discussion is a sense of uneasiness. A feeling that we don’t have the full story about what really happened. There are so many unanswered questions.
Why did the EQAO attack last so long and take so long to identify?
The EQAO Attack lasted three hours and 10 hours later it still hadn’t been identified as a DDoS attack. By comparison the massive Dyn Attack was identified almost immediately, the public was notified right away, and it was resolved in a little over two hours. Why did it take EQAO so long?
Who investigated ?
Apparently “IT experts and a third-party forensic team spent the weekend trying to figure out what happened” but who exactly did the investigation remains a mystery. Why? When tax dollars are being used why isn’t there full and transparent disclosure?
What successful trials?
Before and after October 20th EQAO mentioned repeatedly that they had conducted “several successful tests” of the OSSLT platform. However, some of the teachers involved in those tests dispute that they were “successful”, and said that the same issues that shut down the OSSLT on October 20th were present in the March tests.
Cyber Attack @EQAO?The issues on the day of the test were the same issues we had in all of our preparation for the #OSSLT attempt in March..
The online platform that EQAO was using for the OSSLT is called Measurement Incorporated Secure Testing (MIST), sold by Measurement Incorporated, a company based in North Carolina that “provides achievement tests and scoring services for state governments, other testing companies, and various organizations”.
There are also many implications for EQAO moving forward:
While the test was eventually cancelled some students were able to complete the online test (why??). Will those completed tests still be marked? If they aren’t, isn’t that unfair to those students who persevered?
EQAO stores millions pieces of data on students from eight years of age and older. Given what happened on October 20th, how can Ontario parents remain confident that personal information about their children will remain private when testing becomes online?
Will we ever know what happened? Richard Jones, director of assessment for EQAO said “I’m not sure if this kind of thing can ever be figured out,” which won’t fill anyone with confidence.
Should EQAO have been better prepared for what happened. Cyber security lawyer Imran Ahmad thinks so:
Ontarians should know what happened, why it happened and what EQAO is doing to prevent it from ever happening again. Our students and families deserve that. A confused shrug from Richard Jones isn’t good enough.
Pokemon Go has conquered over the world, and it only took a weekend. After a global rollout on July 6th Niantic‘s augmented reality game Pokemon Go has simultaneously destroyed the online gaming world, rewritten the records for active users and app downloads, and in the process become an internet and social phenomenon. Of course, Pokemon Go’s takeover of our collective consciousness didn’t happen without a few hiccups.
In less than a month Pokemon Go has, according to mainstream media, been responsible for:
In June of 2016 I wrote something on the future of report cards for TVO.org. Here’s an excerpt:
The digital revolution has transformed every area of our lives by changing how we send, receive and use information. Information is plentiful, easily accessible and flows freely and at high speeds, allowing people to make better, more effective decisions. The use of information technology has transformed many of the ways we educate students, with one notable exception – the school report card.
Twice a year parents open envelopes containing folded sheets of paper and see five months of learning reduced to letter grades or percentages and a few comments. Educators decide how to effectively communicate a student’s learning journey, and which of the thousands of learning moments are significant and deserve to be shared.
If this sounds a lot like the kind of mass communication your parents would feel comfortable with, it is. Many aren’t surprised we still use such an antiquated system, because schools are often criticized for being outdated and slow to modernize. Fortunately, there’s evidence that how educators communicate about learning is finally moving into the digital age.
I began writing about French Immersion on this blog in February of 2013, and then later that year in The Globe and Mail. Shortly after my piece was published in The Globe and Mail I was interviewed by a Vancouver radio station about French Immersion.
This year, The Globe and Mail’s Caroline Alphonso applied a much needed critical perspective to French Immersion programs in Canadian schools. Alphonso’s investigative articles kicked off a month of meaningful public debate about the implications of the French Immersion program for public education in Canada.
Egan wondered whether the growth of French Immersion would lead to English becoming a “speciality program” in the English Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). Worryingly, Pino Buffone, the OCDSB’s superintendent of curriculum responded “That’s possible, depending on the interests of our parents and guardians.” English a marginal program in an English language school board. Hmmm…
“I think the piece around equity was very important to me, that we have lower uptakes in the French immersion program for certain groups of students. People coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, English language learners, students with disabilities, and male students … take early French immersion and middle French immersion at lower rates than the rest of the population.”
Even in Ottawa, Canada’s most bilingual city, French Immersion classes aren’t reflective of the school population. If Ottawa is struggling to make French Immersion work, what hope is there for the rest of Canada?
Shortly after the OCDSB decision I was invited to discuss my thoughts about some of the problems with French Immersion on the CBC Radio show The 180 .
The concerns raised about French Immersion programs over these last few months are:
French Immersion is negatively affecting the quality of education offered to non-FI students.
French Immersion classrooms don’t reflect the diversity of Canadian society. French Immersion students are more likely to be richer, better educated, girls, native English speakers, non-immigrant, white and less likely to have special education needs.
The rate of attrition from French Immersion programs is unacceptably high.
There aren’t enough qualified French Immersion teachers and resources to offer a high quality program.
French Immersion isn’t very effective at teaching students how to be fluent in French (i.e. many have stated the goal of FI is to produce bilingual citizens).
There was really only one substantive mainstream reply to this maelstrom of criticism, and it didn’t really come from the French Immersion “community”. Graham Fraser, The Commissioner of Official Languages, wrote in The Globe and Mail “Of course French immersion is not perfect“. In this piece, Mr, Fraser basically agrees that, yes, there are problems with French Immersion, but argues that the benefits outweigh them. Not exactly a stunning endorsement.
The largest advocacy group for French Immersion, Canadian Parents for French, kept mostly to the fringes of the discussion and continued their grass-roots lobbying of school board trustees. This make s sense, because, ultimately, their goal isn’t to ensure we have a healthy, functioning public education system, but rather to make sure that, no matter the cost, French Immersion, in it’s current form, will endure.
It now falls to our elected officials, the school board trustees and Members of Provincial Parliament to step forward and begin an evaluation of French Immersion. Until that happens, they are avoiding their responsibility to ensure that all students have the an education that meets their needs.