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Florida virtual students get unexpected down time

Florida students taking online courses through Florida Virtual School and its affiliates found themselves without access to their classes over the past couple of days. They won't be penalized for getting their work done late.

The reason? A computer cracker attacked the system with a Distributed Denial of Service hack. This "zombie computer" attack is designed to overwhelm a server or servers, slowing access for legitimate users.

According to How Stuff Works, DDoS has crippled systems as big as eBay, Amazon and CNN. And once under attack, there's little an administrator can do but try to limit access while weeding it out. FLVS quickly took down its systems to assess the damage and to add security.

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"We assure you that FLVS is working around the clock to prevent any future attacks of this nature," Pasco eSchool principal Joanne Glenn told parents in an email explaining the problem. "We appreciate your patience with us as we work to make this happen. Students will not be penalized for not having access to their course work over the past 24 hours. Our teachers have been informed of the reason for the downtime and instructed to work with students and families."