Making and Re-Making the Grade - InformationWeek

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Government // Cybersecurity

Making and Re-Making the Grade

If at first you don't succeed, tamper with the grades afterward

1:40 PM -- Okay, class, may I have your attention? The following items have been reported in the last three weeks or so:

  • Last Friday, a University of Utah student admitted hacking into a professor's computer account and changing his math grades. At least one of the changes improved his score from failing to passing. He was sentenced to four months in prison.

  • On Dec. 28, the press attaché of a Montana Congressman was caught trying to hire hackers to break into the systems of Texas Christian University and change his grades. He wanted to bolster his grades to improve his resume in anticipation of a future run for office. He was summarily fired from his job.

  • On Dec. 14, the senior class president of Cooper City High School in Florida was taken to jail from school and charged with hacking into school systems and changing the grades of 19 students. It is not clear whether he changed his own grades. (See Prez Busted for Hacking.)

I just have one question in all of these cases. Did any of them try studying first?

Hacking isn't easy. It takes a level of intelligence, desire, and (especially) time. I'm not saying school systems are the most secure, but certainly changing your grades online isn't as easy as filling out a change of address form.

Wouldn't it have been easier just to do their homework?

I'm betting that these cases of grade-changing are only the tip of the iceberg. Ever since movies like "Wargames" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," kids have fantasized about hacking the school's computers and changing their grades. And among a security-savvy audience like Dark Reading's, I'm guessing there are some pretty interesting stories about it out there.

Have you ever electronically changed your grades? Do you know someone who did? Post your story to the message board attached to this blog. Remember, all postings are completely anonymous.

And believe me, none of these postings will be graded.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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