A cyberattack crippled Rutgers University's networks Monday morning, prompting criticism from students and questions about the security and strength of the university's infrastructure.

Students began reporting connection problems Monday morning. Shortly before 11 a.m., Rutgers-Newark tweeted that a network outage was bringing down Internet and WiFi connections.

An hour later, the university's Office of Information Technology said that the network was "experiencing technical difficulties."

A university spokesman said around noon that Rutgers was experiencing a distributed denial-of-service attack.
Those types of attacks involve using multiple computers — often in a "botnet" of tens of thousands of computers infected by a virus without users' knowledge — to make repeated requests of a server, overwhelming it.

A series of distributed denial-of-service attacks took down the university's networks earlier this year, including days-long outages in March and April, one right before finals.

Those attacks, like Monday's, affected university services including email, wireless Internet access, Rutgers.edu websites, and Sakai online course management system.

State and local authorities were investigating those attacks, and the FBI was assisting in the investigation, Rutgers said. A university spokesman said Monday those investigations are ongoing.

When the Rutgers University Board of Trustees voted in July to raise tuition and fees, university officials attributed part of that increase to costs of their efforts to beef up network infrastructure.

Rutgers has hired three cybersecurity firms and is spending up to $3 million to protect the university, The Star-Ledger reported last month.

Students — some of whom complained of difficulties accessing materials as they studied for exams this week — took to Twitter to criticize the university for allowing another attack to bring down the school's networks.

"It's not a normal semester at Rutgers unless the wireless gets hacked," one student wrote.

"Would it even be a week of exams without Rutgers wifi being attacked?" asked another.