16-year-old student arrested for launching cyberattacks against Miami-Dade public schools

A 16-year-old high school student has been arrested in connection to the cyberattacks that targeted Florida's largest school district during the first week of online classes.

Miami-Dade Schools police announced the arrest of a junior at South Miami High School, who investigators say admitted to orchestrating eight Distributed Denial-of-Service cyberattacks, designed to overwhelm the district's networks.

The male student has been charged with computer use in an attempt to defraud, which is a third-degree felony, and interference with an education institution, a misdemeanor. The teen is being charged as a juvenile.

WSVN reports that Miami-Dade Schools police worked jointly with the FBI, the Secret Service and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to trace back the IP address of the suspect.

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Detectives are continuing to investigate to determine if any other individuals are responsible for the attacks, which began Monday as students returned to school remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tens of thousands of students and teachers were unable to log in during the first days of online learning.

"I commend our detectives, the FBI, Secret Service, and FDLE for their tireless efforts to pursue those responsible for these attacks," said school superintendent Alberto Carvalho. "It is disheartening that one of our own students has admitted to intentionally causing this kind of disruption."

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a tweet on Wednesday morning that multiple attempts to disrupt online education have been made Wednesday morning, following two previous days of cyberattacks. Carvalho said they haven't managed to penetrate the district’s servers.

He said the district's security and safeguard measures have been successful so far and that the 200,000 students who've logged onto the system have been asked to remain logged on.

The remaining teachers and students who have not been able to access the system are being asked to use an alternate method of logging in. Miami-Dade’s public school system is the nation’s fourth largest, with 345,000 students, 392 schools and more than 40,000 employees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.