Teens Hack Grades The Modern Way

Dennis Faas's picture

If you love your 80s teen movies, you'll be very familiar with plots in which geeky teenagers (often played by Matthew Broderick) use dial-up modems and green-screen monitors to hack into their school computers and change their grades.

Two California students have recently been charged over similar incidents where they reportedly used a blend of 21st century hacking and old fashioned brute force. Rather than simply looking in the principal's assistant's drawer for the password, they allegedly broke into the school and installed spyware on staff computers so that they could remotely access the network.

And it seems likely their story will have a much more downbeat ending than a Broderick flick. While accomplice Tanvir Singh only faces a conspiracy charge with a potential three-year sentence, 18-year-old Omar Khan has been charged with 69 offences including computer fraud, identity theft, receiving stolen property and altering and stealing public records.

If found guilty on all counts, he could spend 38 years before bars -- meaning he'd just have time to get out and graduate college for his 60th birthday. Ironically the pair appeared in court on the day of their graduation ceremony, which should make for an interesting yearbook entry. (Source: theregister.co.uk)

Prosecutors claim Khan changed grades for a dozen other students as well as his own. But despite his hacking skills, it seems he forgot the all-important cheating rule of plausibility: he changed a string of poor results, even including a failed test, to straight A's. (Source: timesonline.co.uk)

He was eventually rumbled when he applied to college, was turned down, and demanded a copy of his transcript to lodge an appeal. It didn't take long for staff to notice his suspiciously good results.

Fellow students were unimpressed. Said one: "If they had put 1 percent of their cheating efforts into their school work, they should have been able to soar."

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