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Cyber attack hits Salt Lake City School District's website, phones, grading system

A cyber attack that began Friday afternoon overwhelmed the Salt Lake City School District's website, phone system, and PowerSchool grading and homework tool off and on through Monday morning, according to district officials.
A cyber attack that began Friday afternoon overwhelmed the Salt Lake City School District's website, phone system, and PowerSchool grading and homework tool off and on through Monday morning, according to district officials.
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SALT LAKE CITY — A cyber attack that began Friday afternoon overwhelmed the Salt Lake City School District's website, phone system, and PowerSchool grading and homework tool off and on through Monday morning, according to district officials.

The so-called "denial of service" cyber attack made against the district is a type of online sabotage that uses a high volume of visits to a website or otherwise submits a barrage of information requests to that website's servers, said Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen. It is intended to overwhelm a network and make it inaccessible to regular users, he said.

"We had thousands of computers sending data to our network all at the same time. It's like what happens when you put too many cars on I-15 at the same time," Olsen said. "We actually got to the point over the weekend where some of our systems weren’t working at all."

Parents and others met difficulty while trying to reach Internet-based school phones Monday morning, and the PowerSchool grading system used by the district — in heavy demand at the end of term — was also affected. However, no confidential information belonging to students, parents or teachers was hacked, Olsen said.

"For the students in the classroom, it was a very normal day," he said. "This was not an ID theft attack or anything like that."

The school district's firewall was overwhelmed in the cyber attack, which launched Friday afternoon. Olsen said the district will review the incident with in-house network security experts. He added he doesn't know why the district was targeted or who may have been behind the incident.

Anyone with information about who or what was behind the attack can call the Salt Lake City Police Department at 801-799-3100.

Contributing: Mary Richards

Email: blockhart@deseretnews.com

Twitter: benlockhartnews