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After Days Of Problems, Internet Service Slowly Returning To Normal At Rutgers University

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Students at Rutgers University have been dealing with another round of massive Internet issues this week.

It's slowly getting better, but the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are investigating, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported.

Sophomore Pat Salera was finally able to get on his Rutgers app Friday morning, after days of essentially an Internet black-out on campus.

"This morning it seems perfectly fine. I hope it doesn't go down again," Salera said.

The university said it began experiencing "degraded online services" on Monday, thanks to "distributed denial of service attacks."

Rutgers described the attacks as "persistent." These attacks basically happen when users overwhelm a server with traffic, causing it to slow down or shut down, Grymes reported.

Students said it affected the Internet on campus, including Rutgers' own internal websites and portals. The disturbances couldn't be more ill-timed, as finals start next week.

"I can't really study for it because all my resources are on the Internet, so it's been really annoying and frustrating that it took so long to fix it," Salera said.

"It has been horrible. It has been in and out. Sometimes we can get on the school sites and if we can do that, we can't get on Google and vice versa," added sophomore Tim Vonderlinden.

The university sent out updates all week, and on Friday said the Internet was starting to return to normal, but there was no telling when it would be fully restored. Rutgers said workers made improvements, including to the server.

A similar attack happened back in March. Many students said they were concerned.

"When you think about it, all of our information is on the portal -- our Social Security number -- so it's a little scary. So I'm trying to focus on just finishing the semester right now," graduate student Rory Craig said.

A university spokesperson said as best the school can determine, no personal information was compromised. Rutgers said the local police, the FBI and Homeland Security were investigating, Grymes reported.

Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Dr. Richard L. Edwards asked professors to be flexible with their final exams and to consider grading students on their work to date or accepting a paper instead. The following is a letter he sent to faculty on Friday afternoon:

Dear Faculty Colleague:

As you know, Rutgers continues to experience disruptions to its network systemwide. IT teams on our campus and across the University are working diligently and around the clock to correct the situation and to stabilize the system.

While we are optimistic that our IT teams will resolve this situation soon, we are confronted by the realities of the academic calendar. It is prudent to be prepared for the possibility that the network will remain challenged into next week, which may pose problems for our students as they complete their assignments and prepare for - and take - final exams, particularly online exams. Fully online and hybrid courses are even more adversely affected.

All of the academic deans join me in asking faculty who rely on the network for online exams and final projects to prepare contingencies.

If you intended to offer an online examination, please consider the option of providing a paper exam instead. We understand that this will require scheduling appropriate examination space, and the scheduling office and the offices of each academic dean will make every effort to assist you. You might also consider providing an alternative final assignment, like a short paper.

We understand that there are many reasons that you may not choose to substitute with a traditional bluebook exam or alternative assignment. For example students may have to rely upon online resources—such as Sakai and eCollege—to access their course materials, and if those resources cannot be provided, they may not have the information that they need to complete coursework and/or exams. If you choose not to give a traditional bluebook exam or alternative assignment, you can give final grades based on the work that has been done to date. If a student is not satisfied with that result, the student should have two options: the student can receive a "Pass/Fail" grade or take an "Incomplete" and take the exam when it becomes feasible to do so.

In classes that have project deadlines, we encourage you to be flexible and give students an extension when the delay is caused by the disruptions of the network outages, and we ask in particular that you offer special consideration for those students who are poised to graduate this May.

If you believe the proposed solutions will not work for your course, please contact your academic dean's office.

Please note that the timeline for assigning final grades is still in effect. Should the online grading system be unavailable when final grades are due, a paper alternative will be provided.

In advance, thank you for considering options that will allow us to best serve our students in the face of this unprecedented situation. Thank you for your flexibility and understanding as all of us deal with this matter together.

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