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April 15th, 2008

Williamsville Central School District Employees Data Stolen By Students

Authorities say several current and former students broke into a school district’s computer system in western New York last month and copied secure files that included the personal information of employees. This computer breach marks the third time in the past month that students have gained unauthorized access to sensitive information in area school districts. District computer technicians noticed some unusual activity during routine monitoring of its network on March 26. Immediately upon getting the information, investigation began and police got involved. Two school computers, four personal student computers and one portable flash drive have been confiscated as part of the investigation.

The students overrode the security defenses of a classroom computer at Williamsville North and went trolling for information. Several of the hackers are considered “very bright kids” and good students with no lengthy disciplinary records.

The extent of the security breach remains unknown because police are required to have computer evidence extracted by the Western New York Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, which might take several weeks.

This prompted Superintendent Howard S. Smith to send a letter this week to the district’s 1,800 employees, asking them to notify Amherst police if they uncover any suspicious credit card or banking activity.

So far, however, police and school officials say they have no evidence that any of the accessed data has been distributed or used to commit crimes.

Employees or students who suspect their private information might have been used improperly should call the police at 689-1311.

At least three individuals are suspected in the breach and several more knew about it. Those involved have told police they simply were interested in how far they could get into the system.

The district has begun disciplinary action against one student and expects to take further action as the police wind up their investigation. The district also has taken steps to improve security.

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More on CyberInsecure:
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