Residential customers get a break after Feb. 7 crash and hacking attack

GREENFIELD — As far as NineStar Connect was concerned, the only way to make up for a bad day on Feb. 7 was to refund some money – quite a bit of money.

A core server crash followed by a targeted attack by hackers that caused three disruptions over the next two days prompted the regional communications and electric cooperative to credit just over $84,000 back to customers in March.

“It was the perfect storm,” said David Spencer, NineStar director of marketing. “We had a core server that didn’t indicate it was failing and then did not fall back to the redundancy systems; then there was the DDoS attack.”

DDos stands for Distributed Denial of Service. Such an attack occurs when multiple hackers attempt to overload a system with so much information that it can’t handle legitimate traffic, and service is disrupted.  

The storm started at about 12:35 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, when a core router began to “flutter” at NineStar’s Maxwell campus.

Because the breakdown was not a single, catastrophic event, the backup systems didn’t catch the imminent failure and take over for the malfunctioning router, company officials said.

Service to the company’s Internet, phone and cable television customers was down for a little over four hours while technicians removed and replaced the router, which also required moving some 100 fiber connections in the network, according to a Feb. 10 letter to customers.

Later that night, the company’s network came under an attack that targeted some of its serving routers by trying to overload them. Subsequent attacks occurred on Saturday morning, Saturday evening and again Sunday morning.

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