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DDoS-for-Hire: The New School Fire Alarm Prank?

It used to be that misguided high-school kids resorted to things like pulling the fire alarm or calling in a bomb threat in order to disrupt the school day. But in the digital era, there’s a less messy way to wreak havoc: why not jam the school servers?

That was the (somewhat boneheaded) thinking of one American teen, who turned to a DDoS-for-hire service in what was either an act of simple angsty maliciousness, or a desperate bid to avoid some inevitable situation (a looming test? An unpleasant parent-teacher conference? The world may never know).

What we do know is this: the unnamed 17-year-old Idaho teen launched an attack on Eagle High School and the broader school district, the state’s largest, earlier in May.

According to the local news, the attack dragged on for a week and a half earlier this month, and had far-ranging consequences, including causing students working on Idaho Standard Achievement tests to lose all of their work; some of those poor kids had to take the tests multiple times.

“Our ability to access the internet would just stop,” said Eric Exline, spokesperson for the West Ada School District. “It's really frustrating for kids to have to do that day in and day out.”

Also, online classes and textbooks weren’t available, and administrative and business systems – including the payroll – were knocked offline.

Teen mischief or no, unlike a fire alarm stunt, this action carries serious legal consequences. He may be charged with a felony for computer crime, which carries with it maximum 180-day stint in juvie. It’s also likely that he’ll be expelled from school.

While four months in the slammer seems harsh on the surface, given the extent of the attack and the relative ease with which it was carried out (DDoS-for-hire commissioning is cheap and takes only a couple of clicks of the mouse), it seems prudent to set an example.

His family will be held responsible for financial damages, the Sheriff’s office said.

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