How Did Orange High School Students Avoid Getting Caught?

Technology
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CLEVELAND, Ohio—Secure State is a Cleveland-based information security management firm with accounts worldwide.

According to Secure State, the three students charged with making emailed bomb threats at Orange High School, used sophisticated technology to send out their threats.

"Essentially what this technology does is mask your IP address from the end point, if you will. But it really acts as a funnel, or as a middle man. So, if I were able to go out on a website, it wouldn't actually be my IP address, but it would the address of an anonymous proxy," said Andrew Whitehammer, with Secure State.

Prosecutors say the teens sent bomb scare messages 17 times, simply to see if they could get away with it.

They also say the teens used encryption codes to plan the threats.

"They probably used secure communication over IRC, Internet Relay Chat. At that point, it's really hard to intercept that data. So, unless you have that actual encryption key, you won't be able to access the conversations that actually took place. Even using the most modern forensics techniques, it's extremely difficult," added Chris Kimmel, with Secure State's digital forensics team.

The emails were sent back in November. And according to Secure State, it probably took the FBI some time to figure out where they originated.

"The proxy address could have been anywhere in the world. And the United States might not necessarily have jurisdiction to pull the logs. And if the U.S. doesn't have jurisdiction in those countries, they can't actually subpoena those vendors or service providers that they would need to essentially catch these individuals," added Whitehammer.

So, what eventually led to the FBI to cracking the case and finding these kids? Good old fashioned word-of-mouth and rumors in the hallway of Orange High School.

"If these kids hadn't said anything at all, the chances of the FBI catching them from a technology standpoint would have been very difficult to do," added Whitehammer.

The three teens have been expelled from school. They are scheduled to be arraigned on February 13 at the Juvenile Justice Center.

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