In late February someone launched a cyber attack that shut down the Wake Technical Community College’s computer system for three days, blocking students from logging on to email and other accounts and preventing employees from doing their jobs.
The disruption forced the college to purchase a new firewall that cost more than $88,000 to prevent future attacks. The school also signed a one-year contract at $4,000 a month to bring its servers back online.
No arrests have been made, but an ongoing investigation by police indicates that authorities think a 10th-grader at Panther Creek High School may be responsible for the attacks, according to a search warrant application made public Friday. Campus police, working with the Cary Police Department, obtained the warrant Thursday for a home on Flora Springs Drive.
Arrests may follow “in the coming weeks” after investigators search for evidence from several computers seized from the home, the college said in a statement Friday.
College officials declined to disclose a motive for the attack, but the search warrant indicated that it was launched in an effort to free “Rondo.”
“@WCPSS @waketechcc MY...RONDO will be freed or these...SERVERS will be fried,” someone with Twitter handle MLGJohn and KingMaxito posted on the community college’s Twitter page at 2 p.m. before the attack was launched.
The community college’s information technology department was able to get the site back up that day, but then MLGJohn and KingMaxito announced they were taking it down again.
Among the posts sent to the college Twitter site:
▪ “MLGJohn@KingMaxito, ‘we gave them a chance to beg for mercy but they didn’t acknowledge us so they will pay waketech.edu.’”
▪ “Bones Got Da Strap@MLGJohn54 Feb 21 @KingMaxito@waketechcc YOUR SITE IS STILL NULLED. PAY ME @MAX $100 AND WE SHALL ‘SEIZE’ FIRE ON UR SERVERS...plus yall gotta free my homeboy rondo.”
On Feb. 23, the campus website was still down when college officials met with a senior security specialist with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation. The SBI agent told Wake Tech police to obtain a court order requesting all Twitter account information for MLGJohn54 and KingMaxito, according to the search warrant.
Campus officials were granted that court order in March. On May 5, Twitter officials told police the IP address of the computer used by KingMaxito was from a home on Flora Springs Drive in Cary, court records show.
Police determined that a high school student who lives at the home belonged to a forum called “hackforums” and that he had several posts “seeking information and assistance in conducting a denial of service attack” like the one that shut down the college’s online servers, court records show.
Investigators also determined that the IP address used by KingMaxito and MLGJohn45 hit on the Wake Tech firewall 1,054 times between Feb. 20 and Feb. 22, court records show.