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    High-School Graduation Prank Hack / Schneier · Wednesday, 14 September, 2022 - 01:34 · 1 minute

This is a fun story, detailing the hack a group of high school students perpetrated against an Illinois school district, hacking 500 screens across a bunch of schools.

During the process, the group broke into the school’s IT systems; repurposed software used to monitor students’ computers; discovered a new vulnerability (and reported it ); wrote their own scripts; secretly tested their system at night; and managed to avoid detection in the school’s network. Many of the techniques were not sophisticated, but they were pretty much all illegal .

It has a happy ending: no one was prosecuted.

A spokesperson for the D214 school district tells WIRED they can confirm the events in Duong’s blog post happened. They say the district does not condone hacking and the “incident highlights the importance of the extensive cybersecurity learning opportunities the District offers to students.”

“The District views this incident as a penetration test, and the students involved presented the data in a professional manner,” the spokesperson says, adding that its tech team has made changes to avoid anything similar happening again in the future.

The school also invited the students to a debrief, asking them to explain what they had done. “We were kind of scared at the idea of doing the debrief because we have to join a Zoom call, potentially with personally identifiable information,” Duong says. Eventually, he decided to use his real name, while other members created anonymous accounts. During the call, Duong says, they talked through the hack and he provided more details on ways the school could secure its system.

EDITED TO ADD (9/13): Here’s Minh Duong’s Defcon slides . You can see the table of contents of their report on page 59, and the school’s response on page 60.

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    The schoolday I’ll never forget: ‘I staged a play and caused a riot’ / TheGuardian · Thursday, 2 September, 2021 - 05:00 · 1 minute

It was a play about the murder of the headteacher. What could possibly go wrong? Then an ill-considered marketing plan caused the crowd to erupt

You know those annoying kids who are good at everything? They are athletic, they are musical, they get the lead role in the school play, everyone loves them? Well, I was not one of those kids. I did well academically but possessed no other discernible talents. The highlight of my athletic career may have been when I came third in a sports day egg-and-spoon race. As for music, I was so challenged that I was once asked to lip-sync the recorder during a school concert. The ignominy of this left me with a burning hatred of the recorder – a cursed instrument – that I carry with me to this day.

Despite this lack of stage skills, I did harbour some frustrated thespian ambitions. Luckily for the 10-year-old me, my primary school had a progressive new headteacher, Mr Cooper, who was very enthusiastic about encouraging creativity. I had a little gang of friends who liked to write stories and one day we asked the headteacher if we could put on a play in the school hall during lunchtime. There would be a 10p suggested donation and all the money would go to a charity for sick horses. He was thrilled by our initiative. He didn’t even seem to mind that the play, a tragi-comedy, was called The Murder of Mr Cooper.

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    Basic pandemic safety limits spread in schools / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 27 January, 2021 - 11:45 · 1 minute

Image of a classroom with widely spread desks.

Enlarge / Masks and distancing work in the classrooms, too. (credit: MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images )

Can schools be kept open safely even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues largely unchecked? So far, the data has been mixed. Studies of spread in schools seem to suggest they're not a major source of infections. But when countries that shut their schools as part of a package of pandemic restrictions were compared to those that didn't, the ones that had schools shut down had a lower overall rate of infection. So, the record on opening schools seems a bit mixed.

Yesterday, the CDC released a detailed look at the spread of SARS-CoV-2 within a single school system in rural Wisconsin. While the results come from a time before the new, more easily spread strains had evolved, they show that some of the measures laid out in guidelines on how to safely reopen schools work. Thanks to those precautions, infections in the school were down by 37 percent compared to infections in the community at large, and there were very few infections that occurred within the school. But it also raises an obvious question: if these measures work, why aren't we all using them?

Appropriate cautions

The study started at the end of August 2020 and continued on through to the end of November. It focused on the schools of Wood County, Wisconsin, and tracked infections that took place among its faculty and staff as well as comparing those to the spread of the pandemic in the county as a whole. Overall, there were 4,876 students and 654 staff members included in the data.

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    Judge rules Florida can’t force all schools to reopen amid pandemic / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 25 August, 2020 - 18:39 · 1 minute

A school classroom filled with empty desks.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Mayu Tanaka | EyeEm)

Florida's state government cannot force schools to reopen this month, a judge ruled yesterday. The state's order to reopen K-12 schools disregarded safety risks posed by COVID-19 and gave schools no meaningful alternative, according to the ruling issued by Judge Charles Dodson of the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County.

On July 6, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an emergency order stating, "Upon reopening in August, all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students." Schools that don't meet this requirement could lose state funding. Corcoran, Governor Ron DeSantis, and other state officials were then sued by the Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers' union; the NAACP; and several individual teachers and parents.

After summarizing the health risks of reopening schools during the pandemic, the judge wrote that the state's order to reopen schools "takes none of that into consideration. It fails to mention consideration of community transmission rates, varying ages of students, or proper precautions. What has been clearly established is there is no easy decision and opening schools will most likely increase COVID‐19 cases in Florida. Thus, Plaintiffs have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success in procuring a judgment declaring the Order is being applied arbitrarily across Florida."

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