Teen hacker accused of causing 2-day outage at all Pinellas County schools faces felony charges

A 17-year-old St. Petersburg High School student is now facing felony computer crimes charges after investigators say he attacked the school district’s computer system and caused a district-wide outage on March 22 and 23.   

Detectives say the teen was fixated on getting into the system and told officers he immediately regretted his decision after he was successful.  

Michael Hamilton, a cyber-security expert who founded CI Security says the hack was a DDoS attack.  

"What the student did, was he brought down a distributed denial-of-service attack, which is not the same as breaking in and stealing things and changing grades," Hamilton explained. "What it does, is it makes the whole network unavailable."  

Pinellas Schools said they paid Charter-Spectrum, their internet service provider, to provide security against this sort of attack. But when the system was upgraded in 2020, Spectrum forgot to continue a certain layer of protection.  

Charter said they fixed the issue and gave the school district a $23,000 credit. 

The student hacker was expelled from school. 


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