[ISN] Academy hackers under investigation

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Fri Jun 9 12:44:29 EDT 2006


Of The Oakland Press 
June 8, 2006

BLOOMFIELD HILLS - The principal of the acclaimed International
Academy said he believes the school's image will not be marred by what
he describes as serious but immature mistakes made by five students.

Bert Okma said he and other academy employees are completing an
investigation into the mostly freshmen students' hacking of a school
information system and the alteration of several academic grade

"I think they saw it as a game ... and a chance to improve their
academic standing," the principal said. "If they had been willing to
dedicate as much time to their studies as they did to this, we
wouldn't be dealing with the issue."

Administrators have had extensive conversations with the students, who
came forward after several teachers recognized disparities between
grades in their personal records and those appearing on the school's
computer system.

An investigation revealed that sometime in November, the students had
installed software on the system that provided them with faculty user
names and passwords.

International Academy's Joint Steering Committee has reviewed the
situation and determined that the five students will face disciplinary
action ranging from loss of academic credit to expulsion.

The extent of the consequences will be determined through hearings
conducted with school officials, the students and their parents in
coming weeks. Okma said mitigating circumstances will be considered
individually at that time.

Students also could face criminal charges depending on the
investigation fi ndings and desires of school administrators.

Lt. Steve Cook of the Bloomfield Township Police Department said that
the school has not yet requested police involvement in the matter.

"Depending on what their investigation reveals, could there be
criminal charges issued? I would say there is that possibility," he

Cook did not want to speculate on potential charges.

Meanwhile, academy staff are undertaking the daunting task of
reviewing all test grades recorded for all students this year. This is
because the students responsible for the computer security breach are
suspected to have changed both their own grades and those of others.

Okma said that while teachers are frustrated, disappointed and hurt by
the revelation, they remain resolved not to let it mar the
overwhelmingly positive view they have of the student body as a whole.

Okma believes the same sentiment will prevail outside the school.

"The reputation of the International Academy is sound and well-earned,
and I don't see this impacting that," he explained. "Everybody
understands that young people can make mistakes."

And such mistakes on the part of local youth are not unprecedented.

Last month, three North Farmington High School students were suspended
after obtaining staff passwords to district computers. Officials are
working to fi gure out what the students intended to do with the

The Farmington Hills Police Department is investigating the matter.  
Chief William Dwyer said felony charges could come next month.

"It's still ongoing," he said. "This is an extensive investigation."

Farmington school officials were alerted to the theft after a student
came forward to report the incident. With the passwords, the students
would have had to access the system while at school and not at home.  
Officials do not know if any of the students accessed the system.

No information on the students has been released.

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