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    Here’s a somewhat lengthy post that I’ve been meaning to make for some
time. I’ve seen no mention of it on LM_NET yet, so I thought I’d alert you
to this hacking experience we had earlier this year at our high school. We
had three student hackers wreak havoc on our school network this past year.
They were using a program called “WinNuke” which can crash any Mac or
Windows 3.11/95/NT computer (a keyword search on any search engine will pull
up info on this…). Any media person that has some responsibility for
supervision of computers on a Mac/Windows network should be aware of this
WinNuke program (which is easily downloadable from the Internet), because
any student hacker of modest deviousness is likely aware of it.
     At its most basic, the ‘nuking’ causes various computers on a network
to freeze. A simple reboot usually solves the problem. The student hacker
enters an IP address and the WinNuke locks up that computer.
     Computer freeze-ups are a fact of technology life, but this hacking
really intensifies the problem. The ‘nuking’ caused significant loss of data
for both students and teachers. The frequency of the crashes accelerated
through the 5 or 6 weeks that it took us to narrow the problem down to three
students. We first thought the incessant freeze-ups were a problem of our
new OS or network (Windows 95/NT 4.0) and/or our new computers. Eventually
we determined that the crashes were occurring at certain parts of the day
(usually when our two labs were at their busiest – when the hacker could be
lost in the crowd). Thus, these ‘blue screens of death’ were especially
troublesome for larger numbers of students and teachers, at especially
crucial times, and especially for many of the students who were not
diligently saving their work.
     An equally disturbing part of this is that Microsoft was aware of this
hack on their systems, and they were very, very slow to first, acknowledge
the problem, and secondly, to devise a patch for the problem. Those patches
are now available on the Internet for both Mac and Windows computers.
     If you read further about WinNuke, you’ll find that use of this program
can be a federal offense (and the students kept arguing that “all it did was
freeze the computer….”). We pursued charges and restitution (for our
technician's time and troubles) through the police department. You’ll also
read about some other hacking software (OOBNuke, Jolt, SSPING, IceNuke,
etc.) that is available for easy download from the net.
     This was my first exposure to hacking, my first exposure with any
involvement in tracking down the perpetrators, and my first subsequent
exposure to seeking more information about these programs (programs that can
easily be researched by both hackers and hackees on the Internet).
     As a post script, we weren’t able to discipline one of the student
hackers because he soon after moved away to Arizona. We later heard that he
was expelled from school there for using this same program. This brings up
another interesting issue . . . when students who have been involved in
hacking, transfer from one school to the another, should administrators be
obligated to share that information with the student's next school?

Keith Johnson, Media Director
New Prague Senior High School
221 12th St. NE
New Prague, MN 56071
Ph. 612-758-1217

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