Yough forced to change Internet address
By Stacey Federoff
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Someone watched and waited until the Yough School District website expired, then pounced, hoping to make a quick buck, said technology coordinator Andrew Sanders.
“It's not extremely difficult and it's something he could do from his phone,” Sanders said.
No notification was given to district officials that the Internet domain name yough.net was expiring, so the district's website was down for about a day and a half, Superintendent Janet Sardon said.
“When we went to try and get it back, they wanted $15,000 for it,” she said.
Administrators decided instead to replace the website at youghsd.net.
Parents received notification through an automated call and a flier sent home with students, Sardon said.
Sanders explained that whoever nabbed up the district's former web space set up a program to watch for domains that are relatively popular, but about to expire, then tries to turn a profit when the original owner has to buy it back.
“He's not making any money from Yough,” Sanders said.
“It's not expensive to register a new domain name,” he said.
All faculty and staff email addresses have changed to reflect the new domain name.
Teachers are also available at the email extension yough.k12.pa.us, but the current url is easier to remember, Wrobleski said.
“We probably did that just for the ease of use,” he said. “This just kind of simplified things, especially when you're out of the office and trying to send an email on your phone.”
Sanders said the problem could have caused far more alarm if it was internal, but servers within the district allowed important programs for teachers, like those used to take attendance and track grades, to continue without interruption.
Nor was any of the district's website information lost, since an outside host called eChalk retained the layout and design.
“It really just impacted the public side of things,” he said. “Moving forward there are still things that need to be fixed and we're fixing them every day. ... Those ripples at first are big and massive and as time goes on those ripples get less and less.”
Sanders, who began his position at Yough on Jan. 3, said he is encouraged by the district's five-year plan to include technology improvements like a “bring-your-own-device” initiative and a virtual desktop infrastructure, which would provide ease of access to system information from multiple devices.
Prior to his hiring at Yough, Sanders worked at Baldwin-Whitehall School District for six years, most recently as systems specialist and website coordinator.
“If it blinked or was deemed technology, I dealt with it,” he said.
After earning an associate degree in computer networking systems from ITT Tech, Sanders went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Robert Morris University.
In December, Sanders finished a master's degree in IT Project Management from Robert Morris. The same month, he and his wife Amber welcomed their son Andrew Jr. to their home in Castle Shannon.
Progress with Yough's technology systems — online and off — present exciting opportunities, he said.
“There's always room for improvement, I would never say there's not room for improvement,” Sanders said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-6660.
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