Low Tech, Computer Hack

Just a little reminder that we can have all the physical security, encryption, open source, and source disclosure in the world. Yet, there are still low tech ways to hack systems available to high school “D students”.  Courant story from Manchester. Connecticut <read>

Two Manchester High School students breached the school district’s computer system and altered grades and attendance records, police said Tuesday.

The incident remains under investigation.

Police said the students learned the user name and password to the system from watching a school administrator log in.

They changed grades and attendance records multiple times over the past two weeks, police said. One of the students changed a grade from a D to a C, police said. Another student discovered what they were doing and told a school official about it.

Update: 10/30/2009 Courant: Nationwide: Computers Increase Students’ Temptation To Cheat <read>

More evidenced that it does not take researcg at Princeton or UConn to cheat with computers.  Are registrars any more savvy than school administrators in preventing and detecting fraud?

Much of it is using computers for cheating, but some is hacking:

There’s nothing new about cheating, said Lt. James Wardwell, a computer forensics expert with the New Britain Police Department, “and the computer is just another tool to help someone accomplish a bad deed.”

What is new is that cheating in America’s high schools has become “rampant, and it’s getting worse,” according to a 2008 nationwide survey by the Josephson Institute, the California-based nonprofit organization that runs the Character Counts! youth ethics program in schools in Connecticut and throughout the country.

The survey of 30,000 high school students found that 64 percent said they had cheated on a test during the past year, up from 60 percent in 2006. The survey did not address school computer hacking, but 36 percent of respondents said they had used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment, an increase from 33 percent in 2006.

Some students have been lured into cyber-cheating by the apparent cloak that computers and personal communication devices provide, Michael Josephson, president of the ethics institute, said. Armed with stolen information, kids can enter school record systems from their bedrooms, or they can photograph copies of tests with their cellphones and send them to others who have to take the same test…

Newspaper reports from throughout the country show that the methods students use to crack school computer programs range from simply watching a school staff member entering a password — the method used in Manchester, according to police — to sneaking spyware onto school computers. “Key-logger” programs, for instance, record all strokes on a computer keyboard and send a record to another computer.

In some cases, cyber-cheating students have lifted user names and passwords from hard copy lists left in school offices. Some school staff members use their own names, or slightly altered variations, as passwords, enabling a student to enter a grading or attendance site after a few guesses.

That was the case in Naples, Fla., recently, where police say a 16-year-old boy slipped into school district computers by guessing an employee’s password. The boy was then able to change the grades of five or six students, according to Florida news reports.

Nationwide: Computers Increase Students’ Temptation To Cheat


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