External experts investigate NSW schools email outage

The NSW Department of Education and Communities has hired a group of external experts to assess what took down 135,000 staff email accounts last week.

The New South Wales Department of Education and Communities has brought in a group of experts to investigate what brought down 135,000 email accounts last week, but refused to confirm whether the email service was hacked.

Last week, email and authentication services for 135,000 staff across schools in New South Wales were brought down for two days. The service was restored by Wednesday, but the department would not confirm the cause of the issue.

An anonymous source informed ZDNet last week that it was believed that the service had been hacked. This claim could not be independently verified by ZDNet at the time, but was also reported by technology blog Delimiter.

The department has refused to confirm or deny that email services were hacked, but today said that external experts have been brought in to investigate the incident.

"The department, with the support of external experts, is conducting the investigation. At this stage, it is not known how long it will take to complete," a spokesperson for the department told ZDNet.

In 2008, Google was picked to provide email services to 1.3 million students and staff across the state. In late 2012, the department began rolling out Google Apps to 750,000 students and 85,000 teachers across New South Wales.

Although students are now on Google Apps email services, it is believed that staff and teachers are still using Microsoft Outlook and Google was unaffected by the outage.