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Student Behind Illinois High School Hack

Officials say a school-issued laptop was used by a 14-year-old student to disrupt computer systems at Peoria Notre Dame High School in early October.

(TNS) — A 14-year-old student at Illinois' Peoria Notre Dame High School used a school-issued laptop to hack into the school's computer system, according to the Peoria Police Department.

Lt. Mike Boland, the head of the department's detective bureau, said there didn't appear to be any malicious intent on the part of the teen. Rather, the report taken by detectives seemed to indicate the boy had stumbled upon some apps on the so-called "dark web" and wanted to see if they worked.

"He found an app called an 'IP stressor' and used a VPN (virtual private network) to make himself anonymous. He got into the system from within, and it bogged things down so much that it caused somewhat of a shutdown," Boland said.

On Monday, school Principal Randy Simmons sent a letter to parents, explaining the school had been the target of a "denial of service" attack sometime before Oct. 4. Then, Simmons told parents, the school changed some of its technology but the attacks continued a few more times in October.

"Several factors indicate that the attacks are specifically targeting PND, and likely perpetrated by an individual or individuals known to PND. While to some it may seem unlikely that a student or adult would have the wherewithal to perform such an attack, news reports provide ample evidence to the contrary. The same reports also confirm the severity of the criminal charges brought against those involved in the attacks," he said in that letter.

The FBI had gotten involved as well as Peoria police. An anonymous tipster gave the boy's name to school officials, who passed it on to Peoria police.

When questioned by officials on Tuesday, the boy said he had acted alone and that he was only trying to see what he could do with the apps, Boland said.

The teen, who was cited for computer tampering, has been released into the custody of his parents. The case has been referred to the Peoria County state's attorney's juvenile division, where charges could be forthcoming.

©2018 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.