Security breach leads to chaos at Washington High School

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Last year the intercoms at FUSD schools fell victim to a clever hacker who managed to infiltrate the school’s security measures and play ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ by Rick Astley over the PA system. The hack, which occurred on a seemingly ordinary school day, caused quite a commotion. The incident raised questions about the school’s cybersecurity measures and prompted a thorough investigation by the school’s IT department. It became evident that the hacker had exploited a vulnerability in the school’s network, gaining unauthorized access to the speaker system’s controls. 

While some students found this event humorous, the teachers and administrators did not find it so funny. Concerns were raised not only about the breach itself but also about the security of sensitive student data. These concerns led the district to make it more difficult to create GAFE accounts and for students and staff to login. This change was made with the intention of a more secure system, but some students have found it somewhat confusing, especially some of our international students.

Kathleen Rauchsuber, who has been teaching at the school for five years, expressed her concerns about a different kind of challenge her students face, especially those from other countries. International students often encounter difficulties accessing their accounts due to the varying email systems they are accustomed to in their home countries, along with the language barrier. Rauchsuber explained, “It’s hard for my students to get logged into their accounts. When they come in from different countries, we need to manually request a new email account to be made.” In addition to the district altering the process of creating a GAFE account, this has caused international students to experience a struggle that most students don’t have to.

International students play a vital role in fostering diversity and cultural exchange within educational institutions. However, their unique needs, especially when it comes to technology and account access, can be a hurdle that needs to be addressed effectively.

To mitigate the issue, schools must take proactive measures to streamline the onboarding process for international students. This may include developing a standardized procedure for creating email accounts, providing clear instructions, and offering technical support to those who need assistance.

Additionally, schools can implement cybersecurity training programs to educate students and staff about the importance of strong passwords and digital security best practices. This would not only help prevent future hacking incidents but also enhance the overall security posture of the school’s network, and the way that the PA system is controlled should be given some thought as well.

While the hack was most likely just a prank, it has inspired changes in the district’s cybersecurity that  have given some particular students somewhat of a struggle, but if we all decide to work on 

improving our policies and practices regarding cybersecurity, we can satisfy everyone. Students and teachers should always attempt to make our school more hospitable and make our colleagues feel welcome. 

Samuel Douglas was born and raised in the Bay Area, and is a freshman at Washington High School. This is his first year working on the Hatchet. He is eager to write about things like art and entertainment. He enjoys drawing, or just being creative in general. Sam likes making new friends, and he hopes that he can be friends with everyone he interviews. In the future, he wants to improve his art and eventually publish his own comic book series.

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