[Students] Notice of CAPTCHA Feature in Response to Brute-Force Attack

UCR Information Technology Solutions its at ucr.edu
Mon Jan 10 12:43:16 PST 2022

Dear Highlander Community,

Beginning this weekend UCR users attempting to access secure systems
experienced a CAPTCHA security feature when authenticating their identity
via multi-factor authentication (MFA). This is a legitimate feature that
was activated as a result of a severe brute-force attack on the
University’s systems that began over the weekend.

In a brute-force attack, the bad actor systematically submits numerous
passwords or paraphrases in a trial-and-error attempt to discover a
password and gain access to a secure system. As these attacks are
automated, an effective means of defense is the Completely Automated Public
Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA). CAPTCHA is a
legitimate feature that is part of a comprehensive security program that
ITS has been developing and implementing over the past several months in
response to an increase in cyberattacks targeting universities.

Due to the severity of the attack the University experienced this weekend,
the CAPTCHA security feature was automatically triggered to protect user
accounts. However, because ITS was not able to communicate this particular
security feature to the campus in advance of the attack, the CAPTCHA
feature caused confusion. In response, CAPTCHA has temporarily been
disabled and other mitigation functions have been employed to address the

ITS always strives to maintain transparency with campus, so we apologize
for any confusion caused by this security incident. ITS will provide
advance notification to campus before any future deployment of this feature.

As is evident from this current attack, it is imperative that everyone on
campus use cybersmart practices. As a reminder you should follow the basic
cybersecurity tips below:

   - Never share your password with someone
   - Never reuse passwords
   - Never accept an MFA request unless you are currently trying to access
   a secure UCR system

Please take time to learn more tips and best practices at

Thank you for your attention to this matter and your partnership in keeping
the UCR community safe.

Enabling Your Continued Success,

Information Technology Solutions

University of California, Riverside

ITS.UCR.EDU <https://its.ucr.edu/>

*Please Note: This email account is not monitored by ITS staff. If you
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   - For live support, you can contact the BearHelp helpdesk during normal
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