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Gates-Chili School meeting brings hacking incident to the agenda

Local News

People were coming to the defense Tuesday night of Gates-Chili student Ajay Bhattacharyya, who was charged last week with computer trespassing, identity theft, and falsifying business records after hacking into the district’s computer network. At a school board meeting, the incident was brought into the agenda. 

According to the district, digital forensics experts traced Bhattacharyya’s activities. They say no private information was removed or copied from the district’s network but could have been viewed. Some people who know Bhattacharyya showed up to support him and were questioning the charges, something they feel to be too severe. 

“I don’t believe his intentions match his actions at all, I feel like I’m just here to support him as a friend,” says classmate Danny Le. 

Connor Weihoneig has known Bhattacharyya for a few years, someone he describes as intelligent. He didn’t expect this kind of thing from him, but the hacking is still something that concerns him.

“We have a lot of personal information in the accounts,” says Weihoneig. The information includes Social Security numbers, grades, student and disciplinary records, detailed maps, and access to every security camera. Yet, Weihoneig doesn’t think Bhattacharyya meant to cause harm. 

“I don’t think he intended to use it against any of us, or try to steal it in any way,” he adds. 

Lorna Patinella, a parent at the meeting, says part of the blame is with the school.

“I think the district failed to put appropriate safeguards in place that a 17-year old can access information. He made a poor choice, and I don’t think he should be charged to this degree,” says Patinella. 

People who were upset with Bhattacharyya’s actions did not want to go fully on record. They were less than thrilled and were particularly concerned about their private information being exposed. 

In a statement, the district says they are taking this matter very seriously. They add no social security numbers were accessed, and there was no manipulation of information. They say they have already taken measures to prevent any further unauthorized access. 

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