School fights off cyberterrorist

19th May 2000 at 01:00
TEENAGERS plus technology usually equals mayhem. So three cheers for the oldies at an Oldham secondary who foiled a plot to plant no fewer than 236 viruses in its computer system.

So keen was the 15-year-old would-be cyberterrorist, that he arrived early at Hathershaw community high. But staff had already installed "firewall" technology to repel all such nasties (and log every detail).

"If someone wants to headhunt him, they'll be very disappointed," Bruce Summers, the school's information technology officer said. "The firewall did its work so well that he didn't even have time to unleash his viruses on the system."

Idle hands? Challenging school trips are the answer, according to John Wade, chairman of the Independent Schools Association. He is concerned that schools are increasingly reluctant to organise such outings, for fear of parental legal action, Mr Wade said: "Young people need utlets for their raw physical energy or they will spend their time popping pills, jumping up and down and listening to excessively loud music in dirty warehouses."

One group of teenagers found a more useful outlet for their energy: baiting Tony Blair. Sixteen secondary pupils were invited to Downing Street as part of a Government-backed campaign to encourage entrepreneurship, and apparently spent the day asking tricky questions.

Thomas Lamboi, 14, from the local comp, Westminster city school, wanted to know why the young Blairs hadn't been sent there. Gordon Brown was grilled about the pound and Stephen Byers about Rover.

The reign of terror continued at the press conference. Why had the entrepeneurship scheme taken so long to launch? How would its success be measured? Making good his escape, Richard Branson joked: "Thank God I'm not on the platform." Move over, Jeremy Paxman.

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