CAO site faces new cyber attack

 

The Central Applications Office (CAO) was forced to shut down its website today after an early-morning cyber attack resulted in new passwords being issued to 22,000 third-level applicants.

Those attempting to access cao.ie were unable to check their details for over four hours after the site was targeted for the second time this week.

An interactive part of the website which allows users to renew their passwords was taken offline by the CAO at 9.30am and another section where application details can be checked was closed at 11am.

The site was not fully functional again until shortly after 3pm.

CAO operations manager Joseph O’Grady said a 1am attack on the renew-password facility caused the system to automatically issue new account passwords by email to over 22,000 applicants.

It is not known if the latest attack is related to Monday’s apparent denial-of-service attack which resulted in tens of thousands of applicants being unable to check their first-round course offers for several hours.

Today's developments caused concern to applicants with many logging comments on discussion forum boards.ie saying they had either not received their new password or had received multiple passwords.

In a statement issued this evening, the CAO moved to reassure applicants that their data was secure.

"We closed down the interactive part of the website to investigate what happened, and at this stage, we do not believe that applicant accounts have been accessed or that any data has been changed," the statement said.

The CAO revealed this week that its website was also attacked on July 1st - the deadline for change-of-mind applications.

A subsequent investigation failed to identify the source of the attack, the office said.

Those concerned have been advised to call the CAO information line on 091-509800 or email from the website, www.cao.ie