MOUNT ZION — Police say a student undertook a cyber attack on the Mount Zion School District computer network to sabotage a homework assignment, causing the system to crash. 

Mount Zion police Lt. Mike Foster said the 18-year-old student launched the attacks using an app on his phone. Foster said the first was Nov. 20 when the district’s computer system went down for about an hour. A second attack occurred on Nov. 26, and this time service was disrupted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., he said, and a third and final attack disrupted the system again about 9:15 a.m. Nov. 27.

Foster said by the following day police had the information to trace the attacks, and the student was arrested.

The student was able to penetrate the school system’s computer network but wasn’t able to do any lasting damage, he said. 

“... The firewall was doing what it was supposed to do and didn’t let any information out or in,” Foster said.

He described the student’s cyber assault as involving a flood of of information bombarding the school’s computer system in what’s typically called a "distributed denial of service attack."

“With so much information being entered, it overloaded the system and shut down,” Foster said.

The student was given a notice to appear in court after police accused him of a preliminary charge of computer tampering. 

Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott said his office, which reviews all preliminary charges, had not yet received the paperwork on the case Wednesday morning.

“With computer tampering, some offenses are misdemeanors, and some are felonies,” he said. “I don’t know what this is yet until I read the information.”

Calls seeking comment from Mount Zion School District Superintendent Travis Roundcount and Mount Zion High School Principal Cheryl Warner were not immediately returned Wednesday.


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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR


"Together Decatur" Columnist and Food and Drink Reporter

“Together Decatur” columnist and food and drink reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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