[ISN] Five arrested for hacking into high school system

From: cult hero (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu May 27 1999 - 01:58:09 PDT

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    Forwarded From: blueskyat_private
    May 26, 1999 
    Five arrested for hacking into high school system
     BUNNELL - Five Flagler Palm Coast High School students - one the son of a
    Bunnell city commissioner - are facing a litany of criminal charges after
    authorities said they used a computer virus to hack into the school's
    network and commandeer teacher and student files.
     Flagler County sheriff's deputies arrested the students Monday. All five
    were taken to the Division of Youth Services in Daytona Beach before being
    released to their parents. 
     Facing the brunt of the allegations are Steven Alverson, 17, and Daniel
    Bixby, 16, both of Palm Coast. Alverson was charged with 16 separate
    felony counts, eight for crimes involving computers and eight for crimes
    against computer users. Bixby was charged with 12 similar counts. Alverson
    and Bixby were suspended until the end of the school year, June 4.
     Arrested on two felony charges each were Yen Chen, 16, and Henry
    Cervantes, 17, both of Palm Coast, and Daniel Dupont, 17, of Bunnell, son
    of City Commissioner Catherine Robinson. School officials gave Chen,
    Cervantes and Dupont in-school suspension until the end of the year.
     The five will be allowed to return to take final exams June 7 and 8. 
     As for the criminal case, the State Attorney's Office will now decide
    whether formal charges should be filed.
     The arrests capped a lengthy investigation into the presence of the virus
    - a disabling computer program that gave the students access to teacher
    grade books and to exams on the system, according to reports.
     The virus was initially discovered April 8 by technology support
    personnel who were upgrading the school's protective software. In a
    subsequent investigation, reports said, the school's computer experts
    found that each of the five students had downloaded a "hacker tool" from
    the Internet into their personal computer accounts. 
     FPCHS Assistant Principal Allan Haller said no grades were changed but
    that grade files were deleted and exams were compromised.
     "It was more mischievous than anything else," Haller said. 
     Still, he said, the high school's computer network connects to the
    districtwide system, meaning the students could have eventually broken
    into financial and payroll records or general personnel files.
     "It could have been very disruptive," Haller said. "They could have shut
    down the whole system."
     The arrested students either preferred not to comment or could not be
    reached for comment.
     Robin Alverson, Steven Alverson's mother, said her son insisted he was
    innocent of any criminal wrongdoing and offered to take a lie detector
    test or voice-stress analysis to prove it.
     "Steven is very computer literate," Robin Alverson said. "He is not
    stupid. He knows that anything he does on there can be traced. That's the
    thing that gets me."
     One of their classmates, who asked not to be identified, said he thought
    the group had simply downloaded games off the Internet and that one had a
    virus attached to it.
     But sheriff's reports describe a highly technical process - set in motion
    Jan. 4 - involving hidden and renamed viruses that blocked administrators'
    access to their files, making the path more difficult to trace.
     "These students were very good," Flagler County School Superintendent
    Robert Williams said, alleging that they viewed breaking into the system
    as a challenge or game.  "They were running our people ragged trying to
    keep up with them."
     Williams added that it was the first time the district has dealt with
    unauthorized internal computer access, and that the disciplinary code will
    be revamped accordingly over the summer.
     The high school has four classroom computer labs, and Haller estimated
    the school has more than 100 computers that connect to the Internet.
     In the fall, each student is given his or her own password-protected
    computer account to do research or work on word processing programs.
    Students and parents must sign an agreement on proper use. 
     "Some of them choose to use their talents inappropriately," Haller said,
    adding that peer pressure may have played a role. "Whether it's a macho
    thing, whether it was a battle over school territory or whether they were
    out to prove a point - 'We're smarter than you' - it's hard to say." 
     And as recent news reports demonstrate, even large agencies such as NASA
    are not insulated from the potential for break-ins. 
     "We're a high school," Haller said. "We don't begin to have the kinds of
    resources that the federal government has for protection."
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