Kentucky school districts aim to guard networks against DDoS attacks

K-12 schools in Pike County invest heavily in network infrastructure

by Dennis Pierce

Having reliable internet access is mission critical for Kentucky’s Pike County Schools, as it is for most school systems nationwide.

This district of about 8,500 students depends on internet connectivity for its online state testing, as well as for daily instruction, communication through email and a voice over IP system, monitoring of IP-based surveillance cameras, and other operations.

“Technology is embedded throughout education now,” said Pike County Schools Director of Technology Clayton Potter. “It’s just as essential as electricity or water. Teachers rely on the internet for their lessons. You might as well close the school down if you don’t have a reliable connection.”

Pike County has invested heavily in its network infrastructure, with 1 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) connections between buildings and a 10 Gbps pipeline to the internet. Keeping this network protected from disruption is a key priority for Potter and his staff.

“We have to make sure we have technologies in place to keep intrusion out,” he said. “We need enterprise-level threat protection.” And AT&T’s DDoS Defense system is an important aspect of this security plan.

DDoS attacks occur when a hacker takes control of thousands of endpoints and aims them at a single server, overwhelming that network with traffic and ultimately rendering it unavailable.

AT&T’s DDoS Defense helps block and remove this malicious traffic in the cloud before it reaches a school district’s network. The system helps identify attacks in real time and keeps network services up and running.

The Kentucky Department of Education has implemented AT&T DDoS Defense in all of its K-12 districts. AT&T monitors the traffic flowing to each district’s network, and when there is evidence that an attack might be starting, the district is put into mitigation. All of this occurs virtually seamlessly.

Potter has not had to worry about DDoS attacks since the service began.

“There have been a few instances where AT&T has notified us of a broadcast storm and has done some throttling or restriction for us,” he said. “But this all happens in the background, and we haven’t had to give it another thought.”

He added, “We have been really pleased with the service.”