2020 Miami-Dade Public Schools cyberattack

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2020 Miami-Dade Public Schools cyberattack
Date3 September 2020
Time2:53 am EDT (06:53 UTC)
LocationMiami-Dade County, Florida, United States
Authorities believe the Miami Dade school district experienced a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack (see illustration). Designed to overwhelm the bandwidth of the targeted system. There are two types of DoS attacks: One is designed to crash services and the other is designed to flood services. The most serious attack is distributed.[1]

On 3 September 2020, at 2:53 am EDT, a 16-year-old male from South Miami, Florida was arrested in connection with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on the Miami-Dade County Public Schools's computer network, the fourth largest in the US,[2] causing the system to crash during the first three days of the school year. It occurred as the school system was attempting to conduct internet-based instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. After monitoring the IP addresses using the network, investigators concluded the teenager and several foreign actors had hacked the system.[3] At the time, the school district had contracted K12 to provide the software necessary for the internet-based instruction. Despite its price tag of $15.3 million, K12 was surprisingly susceptible to the attacks. Consequently, the school district sought the help of the FBI and U.S. Secret Service to investigate.[4]

Method used in the attacks

According to an affidavit, the suspect used Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) to launch the attacks. LOIC is an application that uses DDoS-style attacks to disrupt websites. However, investigators say the teen was not the only hacker involved. Numerous other IP addresses were associated with the attacks originating from Russia, the Ukraine, China, Iraq, and other countries. Investigators said the suspect was responsible for eight of at least 24 attacks.[3]

After the accused admitted to his involvement, he was charged with the crime of using a computer to defraud, a third-degree felony.[2]

Agencies involved in the investigation

The FBI, the US Secret Service, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement[5] are now investigating. US Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida's 26th congressional district formally asked the FBI for a briefing on the issue.[6][7] US Senator Marco Rubio from Florida has asked the Department of Homeland Security for information about the attacks as well.[8]

See also


  1. Taghavi Zargar, Saman (November 2013). "A Survey of Defense Mechanisms Against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Flooding Attacks". IEEE COMMUNICATIONS SURVEYS & TUTORIALS. pp. 2046–2069. http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/19225/1/FinalVersion.pdf. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wade, Reggie (3 September 2020). "16-year-old student arrested for allegedly crippling Miami school system with cyberattack". Yahoo News. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/16-yearold-student-arrested-for-crippling-miami-school-system-with-cyberattack-180705671.html. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wright, Colleen; Ovalle, David (3 September 2020). "Student arrested for cyberattack against Miami schools used 'easy to prevent' program". Miami Herald. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article245461020.html. 
  4. Vela, Hatzel (2 September 2020). "Questions swirl around $15. 3 million contract for the K-12 platform". Local 10. https://www.local10.com/news/local/2020/09/02/miami-dade-schools-cyber-attack-investigated-by-multiple-law-enforcement-agencies/. 
  5. Allen, Karma (2 September 2020). "16-year-old arrested for hacking Miami Dade school system". ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/US/16-year-arrested-hacking-miami-dade-school-system/story?id=72794095. 
  6. Odzer, Ari; Hamacher, Brian; Pipitone, Tony (3 September 2020). "Student Arrested in Connection With Cyber Attacks on Miami-Dade Public Schools". NBC Miami. https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/student-arrested-in-connection-with-cyber-attacks-on-miami-dade-public-schools/2287613/. 
  7. Vela, Hatzel; Milberg, Glenna; Morejon, Liane (4 September 2020). "Student arrested in Miami-Dade Schools cyberattacks 'a good kid, ' neighbors say". WPLG Inc. https://www.local10.com/news/local/2020/09/03/student-arrested-in-connection-with-cyber-attacks-against-miami-dade-public-schools/. 
  8. Rubio, Marco (2 September 2020). "Rubio Requests Briefing from DHS after Miami-Dade County Public Schools Cyberattack". rubio.senate.gov. https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2020/9/rubio-requests-briefing-from-dhs-after-miami-dade-county-public-schools-cyberattack.