[ISN] High school suspends student hackers who changed grades

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Mar 10 2003 - 01:48:56 PST

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    By Dennis Akizuki
    Mercury News
    Mar. 06, 2003
    Six students at Fremont's Mission San Jose High School have been
    suspended for hacking into the school's computer and changing some of
    their first-semester grades.
    The investigation into the incident is ongoing, but the school
    believes all the students involved have been caught, Principal Stuart
    Kew said Thursday night.
    Kew said the software program the students used to break into the
    school's records is ``readily available on the Internet'' and that the
    school is working with the Fremont Unified School District's
    management information systems officials to install new safeguards.
    He said he is ``disappointed, shocked and dismayed'' about the
    incident, and he expressed concern about how it could affect the
    welfare of the school and the community at large. Mission San Jose is
    recognized as one of the top academic schools in California, with a
    rigorous curriculum and highly competitive student body.
    Many families move into Fremont's Mission San Jose area specifically
    because of the high school's reputation for excellence and its high
    academic standards.
    The hacking and grade changes were discovered Wednesday, when a
    Mission San Jose counselor was reviewing a student's academic record
    and noticed some discrepancies.
    ``There were a number of grade changes,'' Kew said.
    Quickly, the school determined there were five other students
    involved. Kew would not identify them other than to say they were a
    ``mix of juniors and seniors.'' He emphasized that grades turned in to
    colleges for admission purposes had not been compromised by the
    As for punishment, Kew would only say ``appropriate disciplinary
    action'' had been taken. But a faculty member said Thursday night that
    the students had been suspended. Kew did not dispute that statement.
    Asked if the students could eventually be expelled, the principal said
    that was something only the school board could decide.
    Hacking into a school computer to change grades is not unheard of. And
    it has been depicted in movies such as ``War Games,'' starring Matthew
    In December, Reid Ellison, an 11th-grader at Anzar High School in San
    Juan Bautista, hacked into his school's computer and changed his grade
    -- but only after he presented the idea to administrators as a class
    To prove he was successful, Reid -- a straight-A student -- changed
    his grade-point average from 4.0 down to 1.9.
    ``It was kind of the opposite of what most people would do,'' he told
    the Mercury News.
    Reid received a perfect score on his project.
    There was also some controversy at Mission San Jose last year, when
    one of the school's former valedictorians told a local newspaper that
    she had cheated on several occasions while in school. That caused a
    stir among students, teachers and parents.
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