Anonymous Attacks Website of Student-Tracking Schools
A hacker claiming affiliation with the Anonymous movement said he took down the website of a San Antonio school district to protest the district's use of location-tracking ID cards.
Officials from the Northside Independent School District say they found evidence of an attempted attack, which they deemed unsuccessful, on Nov. 24.
The takedown attempt brings more attention to controversy surrounding Northside's SmartID program, which requires students at two schools in the district to wear a lanyard with a photo ID card that contains a location-tracking microchip.
The district may eventually decide to require students at all of its 112 campuses to wear chipped cards, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
The alleged hacker, who uses the Twitter handle @tr1xxyAnon, said in an online statement that he wanted to protest Northside's "stripping away the privacy of students in your school."
He is 16 years old, he told the Associated Press.
"They're tracking students! They have rights too. I want a statement about this, nobody agrees with that, even the parents!" the hacker wrote in an email to the San Antonio TV station KENS 5.
It's unclear how tr1xxyAnon tried to take down nisd.net, but he likely used a distributed denial-of-service attack, which does not require sophisticated technical skill as the attacker does not need to penetrate a website's security measures.
Nevertheless, a distributed denial-of-service attack may make a website unavailable to visitors. The U.K.'s the Register reported seeing nisd.net unavailable yesterday evening (Nov. 26), although it was accessible at the time of this writing.
Northside officials said there was no penetration of the school's network, which would be different from a DDoS attack.
"In the server log, there was a flurry of activity of people trying to get into the network, but they did not," district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told the San Antonio Express-News. "There was never a compromise of information or a breach of security."
Tr1xxyAnon said on Twitter that he took down nisd.net twice and was not trying to access information on the site.
School officials said they are working with police to stop further attacks from tr1xxyAnon, KENS 5 reported.
The new Northside program debuted this fall at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School. It uses radio-frequency identification chips to let school officials record students' whereabouts while they're on campus.
Officials want to know when students are tardy or absent, which helps the district get more funding from the state, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Tr1xxyAnon is not the only person to oppose the Northside program. Andrea Hernandez, a John Jay High School sophomore, refused to wear her ID, which she said violated her religious beliefs, the BBC reported.
When officials reassigned Hernandez to another school in response, her parents sued the school. A judge is supposed to make a final decision on the case tomorrow (Nov. 28), San Antonio TV station KSAT reported.
Tr1xxyAnon undertook his hacking "not only for Andrea, [but] for 4000 students, too," he wrote on Twitter.