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Coeymans police arrest student 'hack attacker'

Coeymans police arrested a 16-year-old Ravena teen for hacking into and tampering with the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District computers.

The male subject, whose name is being withheld by police because he is a youthful offender, was charged with the unauthorized use of a computer, a Class A misdemeanor. He has also been charged with a Class E felony of computer trespass and computer tampering in the third degree, also a felony.

During the investigation, police discovered the subject successfully gained access to the district's computer system with the intent of trying to crash the system. He also allegedly gained access to the computer files both while at school and from home. Police believe the student did not change any computer records, even though access was gained.

The subject was arraigned before Ravena Village Justice Kevin Reilly and sent to Albany County jail in lieu of $3,500 bail. Police expected additional charges in the ongoing investigation. Meanwhile, the RCS school district is taking the necessary actions to stop anyone else from trying this same crime in the future.

The actions, said Superintendent Vicki Wright, are designed \to ensure that the district's sensitive personnel, student and financial information are secured to the highest possible degree.

The changes include new as well as routine steps, such as requiring immediate password changes, frequent and routine password changes in the future, improved filtering of Web sites and the securing at all times of district computers, thereby denying access to anyone not permitted to use the computer station.

Technology Director Jeff Clemens said RCS' technology protection programs are extensive and " as the attack proved " successful in repelling extensive and intensive "attacks."

New security programs have also been installed to increase the frequency of the audits of the district server's activities. It was during an audit of server activity on Friday, Feb. 16 that the "attack" by the student was uncovered. The student could have gained access to grades, personal information on employees, district financial information, and other important data.

"What's important for everyone " parents, students, faculty, staff, retirees and taxpayers " to know is that this episode has allowed us to focus on, and improve, our technological protocols and programs to further ensure the security of vital and important records," Wright said.

"What occurred should never happen again, and we, all of us who use a district computer, are committed to making sure that it does not occur," she added.

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