SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Americans’ fascination with more technology at their fingertips could lead to things many never expected.
“Sadly, all these technologies that bring convenience and benefit to society can be used by bad actors to do these things,” said cybersecurity expert Dave Hart.
Eight Ohio schools, including Princeton High School, were attacked on Friday. A 911 caller told dispatchers that an active gunman was inside the school, injuring 10 students.
“They came to our classroom. Next to our classroom. He opened fire on the students. 10 students were injured next to our classroom,” the 911 caller told the dispatcher.
question? The whole thing is a scam.
“You’d be shocked at what they’re able to do, not only from a technical standpoint, but they’re just vile scum,” Hart said. “The lowest scum you can imagine.”
Hamilton County Attorney Joe Dieters said in a statement that those involved in the scam had better be “prepared to go to jail.”
“The threat of a school shooting is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Dieters said. “I can’t imagine how scared these parents and children are today. It is disrespectful to plan a prank like this. It’s stupid and totally illegal. Innocent people and first responders are vulnerable. Law enforcement will find out who did it. When arrested, they better be prepared to go to jail.”
But Hart believes the culprit is likely to be calls from overseas due to the influx of calls that occurred on Friday.
“Unless these people can be identified and prosecuted in the U.S. … if there really are no consequences, why won’t there be more?” Hart said. “Especially if it’s being driven by an American adversary who just wants to cause chaos, destruction and division in America. Why not more? It’s easy to do, hard to prevent.”
The problem, Hart said, is how reliant society is on technology.
“Society is so dependent on this digital technology. So much design was made at a time when no one could imagine how it could be used this way,” he said.
Following Friday’s events, the call appeared to be from within Princeton High School. The caller told the dispatcher that his phone number included the California area code.
Hackers who know what they’re doing are nearly impossible to track, Hart said. He said hackers could “spoof” a phone number and then break into a virtual private network (VPN) to make the number appear to come from inside a school.
With smartphones, tablets and smart TVs, Hart said, any device a student brings into school, or that already exists in the school, could potentially be hacked.
“The more IoT or smart devices you plug in, the more potential openings in the network and in the armor,” Hart said. “That’s why it’s so tricky. All these devices come with amazing convenience — allowing you to do things you couldn’t do five years ago.
“Do they have some kind of antivirus on them? Are they locked down so it’s harder to hack? Do they get updates? If you don’t install updates on these devices, you’re just waving a flag that says hey come hack me
“What is the police department going to do?” Wait a minute, I better figure out if this was a slam dunk. Of course not, so that’s why it’s a difficult problem to solve,” Hart said.
This type of slapping calls may be difficult to stop in the future.
“Until … the underlying technology improves enough that you know where a phone number isn’t a phone number, and it says where it’s coming from isn’t where it came from, and then you throw in deepfakes, I don’t know how you can Stop it,” Hart said.
Princeton High School among Ohio schools targeted in prank by active shooter nationwide
School shooter prank causes Princeton to postpone football game vs. Fairfield
‘It’s nerve-wracking’: Princeton City school district parents react to active shooter prank