CORONAVIRUS: Palm Beach School District Threatens BocaNewsNow Over Password Story

[The Palm Beach County School District insists the brand new “student password change” tool that debuted Wednesday morning was a not a result of BocaNewsNow.com’s reporting of a major password hack on Tuesday. The password system was “hacked” by a second grader.]

BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor & Publisher

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — In a thinly veiled threat received by BocaNewsNow.com Wednesday morning following our exclusive reporting of a major password hack potentially affecting all students, a representative of the Palm Beach County School District took a “shoot the messenger” approach.

BocaNewsNow.com reported on Tuesday that a second grader used the Palm Beach County School District’s password naming “convention” to figure out how to access almost any other student’s account. The access gives any student access to another student’s email, class assignments, assessment tests and “live” video streams and chats. It also provides access to data that could be used to impersonate another student, or potentially obtain confidential information.


After we reported that students demonstrated the hack to BocaNewsNow.com with full permission of parents who permitted their child’s account to be accessed, the school district wrote to BocaNewsNow.com: “to hack an account, even with the permission of a parent, is a violation of the student code of conduct.”


In the email received by BocaNewsNow.com, the school district representative announced that a new “password change” option was now available to all students, but that “this was not created as a result of your story.”

The password change “tile” did not exist before 9:30 Wednesday morning.

Parents contacting BocaNewsNow.com pointed to the safety issues raised by the massive password hack, and expressed concern that grownups — conceivably — could access live video streams of their children.

The issue was solely the Palm Beach County School District’s password assignment system and NOT Google, which did nothing wrong.

BocaNewsNow.com learned that older students have long had the ability to change passwords — how many did change passwords previously is unknown. Elementary students, however, did NOT have the ability to change passwords before today. The second grader who discovered the hack apparently made it clear that there was a problem.

It is unclear if local administrators reported the hack to senior school district officials.

In a “see something, say something” online environment, the Palm Beach County School District’s threat to BocaNewsNow.com over having children show that a flaw truly existed is astonishing. It comes a day after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida issued a press release warning parents of online sexual predators:


[Press Release issued hours after Palm Beach County School District password hack was reported by BocaNewsNow.com.]

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, The Palm Beach County School District has not notified parents of the hack. Students have not be notified to change passwords.


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