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Student arrested over cyberattacks against Miami-Dade County Public Schools

The district has been under cyber-siege since Monday.

MIAMI — A 16-year-old has been arrested in connection with numerous cyberattacks against Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida's largest school district.

Since the first day of school Monday, the district has been the target of more than a dozen cyberattacks, which have disrupted online learning amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A district spokesperson tells WPLG investigators traced the IP address responsible for the attacks to a junior at South Miami Senior High School. He reportedly confessed to orchestrating eight distributed denial-of-service attacks that were meant to overwhelm the district's networks, including systems needed for remote learning.

CBS Miami reports he is charged with using a computer in an attempt to defraud (a third-degree felony) and interfering with an educational institution (a second-degree misdemeanor). He was arrested and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. He has since been released to his parents, WPLG reports.

The arrest comes after a joint investigation this week by the FBI, Secret Service and FDLE. Authorities determined the teen used an online application to carry out the attacks.

“We believe, based upon our investigation, that other attackers are out there,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police Department Chief Edwin Lopez told CBS Miami in a statement. “We will not rest until every one of them is caught and brought to justice. Cyber attacks 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.” 

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said data servers "were not penetrated" Thursday and that any issues reported were isolated, according to WPLG. CBS Miami says the cyber attacks weren't a hack, meaning no personal information from students or teachers was stolen.

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