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Widespread Campus Internet Outages Resolved

Many on Campus Were Without Internet Access for Several Hours Friday

By Noah J. Delwiche, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: Dec. 5, 2014, at 8:30 p.m.

Harvard University IT experienced “intermittent outages” for several hours Friday, with many Harvard affiliates unable to access external websites on University wifi for much of the morning and early afternoon.

The network outages were completely resolved by the late afternoon. HUIT is continuing to investigate the “root cause” of the problem, but does not believe the outages were sparked by any malicious attack, according a statement on the department’s website.

HUIT’s updated services dashboard page suggests that the “intermittent outages” were due to “heavy [Domain Name System] traffic.” In a statement posted at 3 p.m. Friday, the department wrote that it had taken “remedial steps” that improved internet access, but that the outages may not have been completely fixed because it had yet to find the “root cause” of the problem.

DNS servers typically direct the website url to an Internet Protocol, or IP, address.

HUIT first issued an alert around 11 a.m. on its website about the outages, which it said began at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Shortly after 1 p.m., Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean for Administration and Finance Leslie A. Kirwan wrote an email to FAS affiliates saying that HUIT was “aware and actively working to address this issue presently.”

Kirwan wrote that HUIT would offer updates as they work to fix the outages.

For most College students, news of the widespread nature of the outages came over House email lists. Friday is the second day of the fall semester’s reading period.

Students on at least one House email list sent out messages around noon, instructing users to modify their DNS server preferences in an effort to solve the outage. HUIT later recommended that any affiliates restore their original DNS preferences to preserve access to Harvard resources.

The Office of Student Life has extended the deadline for winter recess housing applications from Dec. 5 to Dec. 8 because of the outages, according to the office’s website.

Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde sent his own email to College students shortly before the end of business hours Friday instructing students concerned about completing an assignment on time due to the service interruptions to reach out to his or her resident dean.

—Check TheCrimson.com for updates.

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at noah.delwiche@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.

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