Belfast Telegraph

Hackers attack colleges website

Hackers have launched a malicious cyber attack on the Central Applications Office (CAO) website, leaving thousands of college hopefuls panic-stricken.

The website crashed as Leaving Certificate pupils around the country logged on to check if they had secured their first choice of college course.

Joseph O'Grady, CAO operations manager, revealed there had been a direct denial of service - when a source deliberately set up a computer to bombard the website with bogus page requests.

He said technical staff, who found a solution by lunchtime, would continue to monitor the website closely 24 hours a day.

"At the moment, our priority is to process offers and acceptances on behalf of students and the Higher Education Institutes," said Mr O'Grady.

"We plan to conduct a full investigation into this attack in due course."

More than 23,000 online acceptances were recorded by the end of day, 1,000 more than last year.

Ruairi Quinn, Labour Party Spokesperson on Education, said the cyber attack was particularly malicious incident and designed to throw the system into chaos.

"On the very day that tens of thousands of students should be checking out their first-round offers, this incident will add to the anxiety that they will already be experiencing, and as such is most unwelcome," he said.

"I welcome assurances by CAO officials that they are working on the problem and would add my voice to appeals to students not to panic."

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