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March 27th, 2008

High School Senior Hacks 38000 Private Records

Police questioned a Broward County student on Tuesday after they said he hacked into the school district’s computer system.

Authorities said a student at Taravella High School in Coral Springs hacked into the Broward County school district’s computer system, gaining access to over 38,000 employees’ detailed, private records information including names, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers, which could put those district employees at risk for identity theft and other crimes.

According to a police affidavit, 18-year-old Michael Wasa admitted that he hacked into the district’s computers from a computer classroom at Atlantic Technical Center, where he was also taking classes.

In his computer, police found the entire Taravella High School database and a folder about making bombs. Police conducted forensic analysis of Wasa’a personal computer while the district employees wait for the results.
Investigators also found hacker programs, student information and software that could falsify credit card information in a school computer Wasa allegedly used last month.

The school district did notify teachers about a week and a half ago. A representative from the district said there is no new information. Pat Santeramo, Broward County Teachers’ Union President, said his inbox was flooded with e-mails from worried teachers. The school district suspended the student for 10 days.

It’s not yet clear how Wasa intended to use the information. He might just be a teenager who gets a kick out of breaking computer codes and hacking into systems as if playing a video game. But the consequences could be deleterious for the people whose personnel files were breached, and the matter should not be taken lightly.

Coconut Creek police said they’re still not sure if Wasa was showing off his computer skills or if he had intended to use the information. No charges have been filed and the incident is still under investigation. The district has warned employees to keep close track of their bank accounts in the meantime.

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