The Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) had a rough start to the new school year. In the first three days of the fall semester, M-DCPS was the target of various cyberattacks designed to cause disruptions in Internet service, impeding teaching and learning. In partnership with the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department (M-DSPD), FBI, the Secret Service, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the cybercriminal was identified and arrested.

Following a thorough investigation, M-DSPD detectives traced an IP address responsible for the attacks to a 16-year-old student, a junior at South Miami Senior High School. The student admitted to orchestrating eight Distributed Denial-of-Service cyber (DDoS) attacks, which were intended to overwhelm District networks, including web-based systems needed for the distance learning platform My School Online. The student, who used an online app to carry out the attacks, has been charged with Computer Use in an Attempt to Defraud – a third-degree felony, and Interference with an Educational Institution – a second-degree misdemeanor.

M-DCPS noted in a statement that the school district “has been the target of more than a dozen of these types of attacks since the 2020-2021 school year began” and said law enforcement is continuing its investigation to determine whether additional individauls are responsible for the attacks.

“We believe, based upon our investigation, that other attackers are out there,” said M-DSPD Chief Edwin Lopez. “We will not rest until every one of them is caught and brought to justice. Cyberattacks are serious crimes, which have far-reaching negative impacts. Our message to anyone thinking of attempting a criminal act like this is to think twice. We will find you.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs