A student at Monroe High School in Monroe, Michigan, was recently caught conducting a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), and Monroe Public Schools Superintendent Barry Martin says the district will be pressing charges.
Over a period of two weeks, the unnamed student managed to take the network down for ten to fifteen minutes at a time during the school day. This had a heightened effect on the district, as modern-day high schools rely heavily on the Internet for administration as well as classroom instruction.
“We are so reliant on the Internet that we can’t afford to have down time,”
said Stephen McNew, the superintendent of the district in which the student attended school.
No Sensitive Data Compromised
Despite having success at being disruptive, an act that the student considered to be a prank, no sensitive documents, e-mails, or files were ever compromised, which should contribute greatly to his defense. Merely disrupting communications is far less of a crime than is stealing sensitive information about other students or private communications between staff members.
“A Good Student”
Barry Martin called the alleged hacker “a good student” in comments to the Monroe News but said that this act could not be tolerated, and charges would be filed. DDoS is a federal felony, but from the sounds of it, the FBI has not yet been involved in the case. It is taken very seriously when the targets are larger organizations or government institutions, and ordinarily those who are serious about conducting DDoS attacks are careful to cover their tracks.
It is not yet evident how the student was found to be a suspect in the case, but in the town of roughly 20,000 people, the pool of likely suspects is rather slim. The profile would be a student with high grades and extreme computer aptitude. This would make the pool of likely suspects even smaller. The way that high schools often conduct such investigations, the student would have been brought in front of a police officer and interrogated until he confessed. Like as not, school officials would pretend to know already that he was guilty, and he would confess. Equally as likely, the student bragged about it to another student, who then turned him in.
Another thing that the administrators said about the student was that he probably didn’t know the seriousness of what he was doing. This is in line with existing research that has concluded that adolescents are less likely to consider the consequences of their actions before taking them.
Locals Have Mixed Feelings
Many locals on the Monroe News Facebook page felt that a felony would be too stern a response for the gifted student’s prank. After all, in the end, the one thing he illustrated was that the school district had a weak network infrastructure that needs upgrading. Especially if, as administrators have said, they are extremely reliant on the Internet in daily teaching.