Eagle students investigated for disrupting district computer network

A 17-year-old Eagle High School student who reportedly was behind the overloading of West Ada School District’s computer network to avoid schoolwork is in serious trouble, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office reported.

School officials suspended the boy Friday and are recommending expulsion.

Eagle police, a division of the Sheriff’s Office, also are investigating whether a student at Eagle Middle School attempted a similar attack this week, but details of that incident were not available Friday.

The Eagle High student, whose name has not been released, reportedly paid someone to overwhelm the district’s computer systems with traffic from multiple sources, launching a “Distributed Denial of Service” attack on the network for the entire district, according to a news release.

“In short, this is a technique that clogs up an organization’s access to the internet to the point it no longer works,” the West Ada School District said in a letter to district parents Friday, saying the recent activity “caused considerable disruption to thousands of students’ learning. “

The effect was widespread and intense. Students throughout the district working on Idaho Standard Achievement tests lost all their work, with some having to take the tests multiple times. Online learning classes and textbooks were not available for much of the week. Administrative and business systems such as payroll also were affected by the attack.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that district officials traced the source of the attack, which came earlier this week, and tracked down the student Friday.

The problem has been fixed and the network is back up, officials said.

Eagle police are continuing to investigate the case. The teen could be charged with felony computer crime, punishable by up to 180 days in a juvenile detention facility. His family will be required to pay restitution for any financial loss suffered by the school district. Federal charges are also a possibility, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

In its letter to parents, the school district stressed that cyberattacks by students are “no laughing matter.”

“Please talk to your student so that he or she understands the consequences of being involved in malicious online activities,” the district said.