16-year-old uses open source DOS attack tool to disrupt his district’s online classes

A 16-year-old boy is suspected of launching a cyberattack against a school district’s online learning system in Florida, USA, forging a stoppage of academic activities for hundreds of students. The minor was arrested and is awaiting the consequences of his actions.

Although local authorities have reserved any offender information because of their age, people close to the case claim that the teen is registered with South Miami Senior High School in the Miami-Dade School District. Reportedly, the minor would have already admitted to launching multiple denial-of-service (DoS) attacks using a tool called Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC), disrupting online academic activities. The incident caused service disruptions for 3 consecutive days.

Cybersecurity specialists mention that LOIC is one of the multiple open source DDoS tools available online, created to saturate the capabilities of a website, launching an unmeasured amount of data packets using infected computers. Hacktivist organization Anonymous used this tool during an attack targeting payment operator firms deployed nearly ten years ago.

This is not the first time this school district suffers an attempt at cyber sabotage. Since the beginning of 2020, the Miami-Dade School District has reported at least 12 cyberattack incidents, so Teams from the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have recently collaborated closely with local authorities. These operations have led to the detection of malicious IP addresses in China, Ukraine, Russia, among other countries.

The teen has been singled out as responsible for at least eight of these attacks, so he faces a serious third-degree charge for using a computer to perform fraud and a misdemeanor for interfering with the services of an educational institution. Upon arrest at home, authorities also confiscated a video game console and a personal computer. The child is in the custody of state authorities.