West Springfield high schooler emails every high school student in FCPS

Sai Mattapalli, Staff Writer

A Fairfax County high schooler figured out how to send an email to all 55,000+ high schoolers in Fairfax County and did so at 10:04 am on Fri., Aug. 27th. This email was sent in order to highlight a flaw in the FCPS email system, but it eventually led to county wide disruption.

A student at West Springfield High School, Zane Beckett, sent this email to everyone to alert county administration about a flaw in the FCPS email system. “[I found the flaw and] I wanted them to fix it, so that some scammer wouldn’t find the secret email addresses and flood everybody’s inbox with Ponzi schemes. It was a problem that my school’s IT department couldn’t solve, so I figured the exploit was on the county level. So I brought awareness of it to the county level,” Beckett said.
Every high school has their own secret email that allows them to automatically forward messages to the whole school. However, FCPS high schools have limited protection for these secret emails.

“These secret email addresses were easy to find, and, what in my opinion was the bigger problem, anyone can send messages to them. Normally, when an organization has an @everyone email address, there’s a whitelist for who can send emails to that special address. The FCPS @everyone address had no restrictions,” West Springfield high school student Zane Beckett, who sent the email, said.

Most Jefferson students agree that the intentions behind Beckett’s email were positive.

“He found a big flaw that could be exploited by the right people, so he had to get their attention quickly and it worked,” sophomore Anukrit Sharma said.

Beckett’s email spurred over 500 new replies to the thread, which all appeared in the inboxes of everyone who received the initial email. This absurd number of emails irritated freshman Soham Jain.

“I was frustrated, because I was receiving hundreds of spam emails during my classes,” Jain said.

High school students from around the country replied to Beckett’s email, which eventually spawned the creation of multiple new email chains with hundreds of replies each.

When it comes to what punishment Jefferson students believe Beckett deserves, there is a rather large divide between those who think Beckett deserves a severe punishment and those who strongly believe that Beckett deserves minimal to no punishment.

“I don’t think Zane should get in any trouble, but I do expect he’ll get a warning. I think the real consequence should be with the [FCPS IT department], who in the words of Zane, makes it surprisingly easy to email every high schooler in Fairfax county,” senior Ignacio Toro said.

Beckett considers this whole ordeal a success regardless of what consequences he may face.

“My plan’s done. I spread awareness of the exploit, which got the county-level IT people to fix it,” Beckett said.