Students steal district data to gain edge in 'Senior Water Games'

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Students recently hacked a school computer system at Downingtown Area School District, a K-12 district in Eastern Pennsylvania, to uncover student addresses and gain a competitive edge in a districtwide water-gun competition.

The district became aware of a potential data breach on Oct. 11, school officials said in a press release. The perpetrators obtained teacher-level login credentials to access Naviance, a college and career resource website and extracted student profile information for the entirety of DASD’s student population, including identification numbers, student directory information, gender, ethnicity, academic data and household relationship information.

The students claim they broke into the system to obtain the home addresses of other students participating in an off-campus game called the “senior water games.” Also known as Assassin, the objective of this live-action game is to try to eliminate other players using mock weapons, in an effort to become the last surviving player.

In an announcement to DASD students and families, Superintendent Emilie Lonardi said: “We understand that this information is deeply disturbing. The highest priority is our students – their safety, their education and supporting their needs. DASD takes the responsibility to gather and store student and family information seriously.”

The investigation is ongoing, but according to district officials, no information was altered or manipulated in any way and no Social Security numbers or credit card information for students or parents was stored in the system.

“Finding and fixing any potential vulnerabilities is an ongoing and essential activity in our systems management,”Jennifer Shealy, communications director for DASD, told EdScoop.

In response to the incident, all students and staff are required to reset their passwords, Shealy said, ​the district has a variety of short- and long-term upgrades in process to enhance security.

DASD plans to update students and parents with pertinent information as it becomes available, according to officials.

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