It’s every kids dream for school to be cancelled, but for many students 2020 has already been stressful enough. Students in Florida, USA however were shocked to find themselves locked out of their online classrooms come the first day of term this September. Having to adapt to new online learning environments already, students found themselves rightfully confused by their failed attempts for online access.
So what happened?
Miami-Dade Schools’ online classes were brought down, a crash of the entire school system that saw students locked out of their online classes for the first three days back to school. Students and teachers alike however were taken a back to find out this was not the result of a complex hacking attack or situation: it was a 16 year student from the same school district. An unlikely teenager to carry out the attack, the result made national and international news headlines.
The 275,000 students in the school’s districts who tried to log on that morning found the system to be overloaded by data. The 16 year old junior in high school – who’s personal details have not been released – was called ‘polite’ and ‘intelligent’ by his neighbours. One neighbour, a Ben Herrera was quoted by the Miami Herald as saying: “He’s an awesome kid, […] What saddens me is how he’s going to be portrayed, and we’ve got to realize with this pandemic that kids are bored, isolated, stuck with too much time on their hands and maybe they do something irresponsible.”
While neighbours might be showing sympathy for the boy, the school district is persuing their multiple charges of Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks. The boy claims his attack was constituted from a free and easily available free software download, which begs the question: why was the My School Online learning platform so vulnerable to an amateur attack?