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Top Student Charged With Fixing Grades For Cash

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the I'd-settle-for-paris-and-a-young-ally-sheedy dept.

Crime 135

alphadogg writes "A Nevada student who gave the opening address at his high school graduation last year has been charged with breaking into his school district's computer system and bumping up his classmates' grades for a fee. Police say Tyler Coyner, 19, was the ringleader in a group of 13 students who have been charged with conspiracy, theft and computer intrusion in connection with the case. Last year, Coyner somehow obtained a password to the Pahrump Valley High School's grade system and, over the course of two semesters, offered to change grades in return for cash payments, police say."

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Top Student My Ass (-1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389108)

"Coyner, now a student at the University of Nevada in Reno, had a 4.54 grade point average,"

I think he forgot how grades work...

Re:Top Student My Ass (4, Informative)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389132)

You mean he forgot that his institution probably had a weighted grading scheme where honors and other high-level classes were scaled to a 5.0 GPA whereas regular classes were scaled to a 4.0 GPA? No, he seems to have had that pretty well down.

Re:Top Student My Ass (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389208)

Regardless, it doesn't matter. We live in a global economy now. An "honors" American high school education is useless when even the best graduates have trouble with basic arithmetic, and many come out functionally illiterate.

Re:Top Student My Ass (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389254)

The best graduates have trouble with basic arithmetic and are functionally illiterate?

At best that is pure bull shit, but I am afraid that you may really think it is true.

Please post some evidence.

Re:Top Student My Ass (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390550)

Re:Top Student My Ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389284)

Well, that goes without saying. It's common knowledge that 110% of American graduates have trouble with basic arithmetic. And, as you point out, the best graduates are no exception. By my calculations, they might be worse! Instead of wasting time on an "honors" American high school education, clearly children should be working in factories. We also need to import more Chinese, since I'm sure that mathematics is probably important for something.

Agreeing with you was more fun that simply calling you an idiot. :-*

Re:Top Student My Ass (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390140)

But if 110% can't do 38.3% of the 76.4% needed to graduate, how are the other 3.2% going to graduate out of the 680% you didn't mention?

Re:Top Student My Ass (0)

jedrek (79264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389346)

This contrasts many eastern european schools where "honors" students come out knowing aprox 3,000 equations but don't have enough practical life skills to open a bank account or form an original thought.

Re:Top Student My Ass (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389546)

This contrasts many eastern european schools where "honors" students come out knowing aprox 3,000 equations but don't have enough practical life skills to open a bank account or form an original thought.

Two things: first, the person you're replying to is obviously wrong. We have "graduates" with quite a few issues, but our best graduates are certainly not having problems with basic arithmetic. I have no idea why someone would get that idea.

Second...I'll take academic skills over "practical" ones anytime. Who the hell cares if I don't know how to open a bank account? If I didn't, I'd walk into a bank and ask someone who works there to help me out. There are plenty of people whose job is financial advising and planning, I'll gladly pay them. Division of labor: it's the new thing!

Re:Top Student My Ass (2)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390000)

Two things in response:

Two things: first, the person you're replying to is obviously wrong. We have "graduates" with quite a few issues, but our best graduates are certainly not having problems with basic arithmetic. I have no idea why someone would get that idea.

They are getting that idea because there are an unacceptable level of students "graduating" who's skill level is well below par. If everyone get's the same elephant stamp coming out of an institution, it's hard to judge from a set of "qualifications" who is talented, and who simply drank beer for a few years.

Second...I'll take academic skills over "practical" ones anytime. Who the hell cares if I don't know how to open a bank account? If I didn't, I'd walk into a bank and ask someone who works there to help me out. There are plenty of people whose job is financial advising and planning, I'll gladly pay them. Division of labor: it's the new thing!

Know everything about something, but something about everything. If you don't have a clue about a topic, how do you ensure the "expert" you delegate to has talent, and isn't just a drip under pressure?

I would certainly hire an expert to provide me with an opinion on which investments are best, how to manage risk, which loan instrument would be suitable to purchase a house for either investment or personal purposes. But opening a bank account? Surely you must have the level of skill to do this yourself to adequately function in society.

Re:Top Student My Ass (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390722)

If you don't have a clue about a topic, how do you ensure the "expert" you delegate to has talent, and isn't just a drip under pressure?

Well, he charged as much as someone who knew what he was doing!

Re:Top Student My Ass (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390146)

Well to be fair if the subject the GP was talking about went to what we in the south call a "football school"? Then yeah it is possible to graduate HS with lousy math skills, and if they were on the team probably illiterate to boot. How would I know? Well I managed to graduate with honors and never actually walked into a class.

How did I do that? Well I got to spend my Junior HS years being tutored thanks to eating pavement at 65MPH plus in a bike wreck, but the tutors wanted me to try to do the last two years with a most likely shortened schedule (ended up 3 day on, 2 day off with 1 day of tutoring) just so I "wouldn't feel isolated" and get to know my fellow students. Now I personally didn't care because my mom had and still has one of the best Sci-Fi collections in the area, I was quite happy with Asimov and Heinlein thanks anyway.

So the first day first class is PE and the teacher says "Anyone not ready to run 20 laps can just get out of my class!" so I left, and took about 1/3rd the class with me. Apparently he had been using that line for awhile and nobody had called him on it, but I just looked at it logically and did what I was told and the others said "Hey he's leaving~we'll follow him!" so after the VP gave the moron a "Don't tell them they can leave!" speech he stuck me and the others in study hall, which was run by the head football coach.

He takes one look at the cover of my "Best Sci-Fi authors of 1976" paperback and thinks I must be hiding girlie mags. He calls me to the front and when he finds it not only doesn't have a hidden girlie mag, but I could sit there and discuss the grandfather paradox and whether time was fixed or changeable he said "How would you like get to straight As and never go to class?" which considering what I had seen so far sounded good to me.

So he takes my class schedule and takes me into each teacher's class on the list and informs them I'll be on "special projects" and they should just give me an A, I of course being a smartass said "Why not an A+?" but got told not to push it. He then sat me up in my very own classroom! where I got to sit and enjoy my books and when any footballer was in "study hall" they were actually in my class being taught how to do basics like spell "flower" and "Stood" and do checkbook math so they could pass eligibility requirements. I swear the first day I was getting "Flower...Floer" and "stood...stuud"

I was quite happy for those last two years, I got my own classroom, I got to sit on the bench during practices and teach the players not in the field, and I'm quite happy to say not a single player I taught was benched for lack of eligibility. Now of course I was lucky, in that I liked to learn new things and that while others got "Horton hears a who" I got stories of worlds with three suns and rivers that looked like liquid mercury which fired up my imagination, but if someone went to a football school and fell through the cracks, or if they had to keep dumbing down so the players could play? Yep I could see you graduating some pretty sad kids.

As for TFA sounds like capitalism 101 to me. Kinda hard to bitch at the kid when you see CEOs cooking the books all over the place. I say you go kid, I'm sure you make a great CxO someday.

Re:Top Student My Ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390664)

Hell, if he was a CxO he'd probably get a bailout. That's a fascinating and terrible story you have there. No offense, but those kids needed a real teacher. Sounds like you had quite an interesting time though, and they needed all the help they could get, but fuck me I'm on the other side of the world and only have a vague idea about what a football school is but it sounds appalling.

Re:Top Student My Ass (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389608)

Did you just say American high schools teach practical life skills or how to open a bank account or form an original thought?

I have a friend who teaches freshman comp at U Arizona. Most of the freshmen do not know how to have abstract thoughts. You have to teach them.

Don't get me wrong--there are a LOT of very capable American high school students and graduates. But most of that isn't from stuff they learn in school. It's from parents (the number 1 factor in determining future education level is education level of parents) or reading or the net or friends or social organizations they're in or (to some very limited degree) enrichment programs, perhaps offered by local colleges.

I know someone else who taught in NY at a school where the kids beat up a cop in front of the school, so the cops came in and harassed the students for a week. In an unrelated incident he had to pull a student physically off a female teacher's leg. Some schools do teach a lot... but even the good ones, for the most part, do not teach you how to open a bank account or form an original thought. And the bad ones are struggling to teach reading.

I had a 4.25 GPA in high school (1)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390104)

Indeed, I had a 4.25 GPA on a 4.0 scale way back in high school. I took a bunch of honours classes (chemistry, physics, calculus, english, US history) to get the extra grade points.

...and now you're posting on slashdot.... (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390382)

'nuff said ;-)

Re:Top Student My Ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389222)

Why stop there? He should've given himself a 4.99 GPA.

Re:Top Student My Ass (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389386)

Or perhaps you forgot that some school systems use a 4 point scale to calculate GPA, while other systems use a 5 point scale. Guess which one his school belonged to.

Wargames... (2)

Kazzerscout (1354365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389120)

So for anyone who has seen that film, doesn't this seem remarkably similar? (Aside from starting a nuclear war...)

doing it for free is not the same as doing it for (3, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389156)

doing it for free is not the same as doing it for cash.

If you do it for free maybe you get a F or get kicked out but for cash may mean doing some time.

Re:doing it for free is not the same as doing it f (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389808)

When I was in high school we had a kinda similar situation, but nobody tried to change grades for profit. They just altered their own grades. Funny enough, I was the one that discovered the flaw. It was incredibly simple, they left a link to the administration backend on the site and didn't use authentication for any of the grade changes. I told the school about the issue, and they ignored me. Six months later a bunch of my friends started changing grades and we all got kicked out of school for two weeks.

I'd be willing to bet if this kid had just found they keys to the filing cabinet with all the permanent records and was changing grades for cash, they wouldn't be filing criminal charges...

Re:doing it for free is not the same as doing it f (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390420)

Sure they would, they'd charge him with larceny, trespassing, etc.

Re:doing it for free is not the same as doing it f (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390806)

I'm sure David Lightman was hoping for something in exchange for his services.

Awwwwwww yeah.

Re:Wargames... (3, Funny)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389244)

I guess we'll know when defcon changes to something other then the current 5

Re:Wargames... (0)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389304)

6?

Re:Wargames... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389708)

11, definitely 11.

Re:Wargames... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389570)

No, it's unremarkably similar, but for some reason you felt you had to anyway.

Re:Wargames... (1)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389584)

I was thinking more along the lines of "BUELLER!!!!" [imdb.com]

was the password on a piece of paper in the office (3, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389136)

was the password on a piece of paper in the office and he just know where it was stored it?

I gotta know (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389196)

was it "pencil"?

Re:I gotta know (1)

KneelBeforeZod (1527235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389380)

No, the password was probably "#2 pencil"

It's a movie reference (2)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390274)

Whoosh...

Pencil was the password Matthew Broderick's character used to break into his school's computer system in the movie Wargames.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389242)

I guess we'll know when defcon changes to something other then the current 5.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389252)

Sorry wrong thread. :-(

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389332)

Turn it up to 11

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389372)

>>>Turn it up to 11

DEFCON goes from 5 (all clear) to 1 (nuclear extinction). Cmon. Haven't you ever watched Stargate or those old Cold war movies? ;-)

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

BinBoy (164798) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389424)

>>>Turn it up to 11

DEFCON goes from 5 (all clear) to 1 (nuclear extinction). Cmon. Haven't you ever watched Stargate or those old Cold war movies? ;-)

That may have been a Spinal Tap reference. http://youtu.be/UeOXsA8sp_E [youtu.be]

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389312)

Haven't you played Deus Ex? The password was probably left on the Bathroom floor, or behind a few stacked up boxes in the Gymnasium.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (2)

mlingojones (919531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389352)

That's what happened in my high school — the school IT people would store the administrator password on sticky notes. Inevitably one fell off in the hallway, and my friends and I found it, and decided to pull a few pranks.

The administration and IT people got really pissed and changed the password. Which, of course, we found a few days later sitting on a sticky note in the hall...

It's really more sad than funny, actually, because not only did the IT people use the same administrator password everywhere, our school actually served as the ISP/host for a lot of municipal services around our county, including the police department.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390374)

We were given an assignment to spend 45 minutes of (self-)learning about computer security.
I looked at WinNT security, then managed to change the Local Admin account's password, and finally walked down to IT to ask them to reset it (never figured out the original passwork). Was given a lecture about how this was reason for expelling me, which I turned around to a lecture on having proper security, and then reminded them that I was one of their best students.
Back in class we had to recount our 45 minutes for the rest of the class - teacher ended up with a completely blank look on his face after I told the class what I had learnt.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390496)

In my day we had token-ring IBM machines all hooked into a netware setup. For those of you who don't know, there's a really serious exploit possible by faking out netware when running over token ring–something that would give you full admin privileges. I believe the packet interception tool was called Pandora, but it's been a long time.

Anyway, one could just go to Barnes and Noble, buy a book about security exploits, and be in business. I never went that far, but there was someone who posted some nasty things about child porn on the admin servers. I'm not sure if they actually used the token-ring method to get the password, but the idea behind what 4chan's /b/ is today was on the root writable part of the netware server at my school.

I found the problem and told the IT admin, who then asked me what the hell I was doing looking around at his filesystem. I told him it was world readable and that he had a bigger problem that he needed to deal with before he went after me. I'm not sure they ever found out who did it. They never bothered me about it after I told them.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

hldn (1085833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389460)

we ran a windows password cracker on a shared PC in high school and ended up with hundreds of account passwords, including the principal's. it was hannah, leading to much lulz -- WE'VE GOT HANNAH MR PRINCIPAL. +10 to anyone getting the reference.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390284)

So how many fail points do I pick up for googling the phrase and still not getting it?

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389550)

Pretty crazy how few people are getting the reference. Kind of makes me wonder who exactly reads slashdot.

Re:Probably hard-coded. Behold... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389616)

In Missouri, the state-wide records software has [had] a hard-coded backdoor password for the administrator account, and using it bypasses all logging features. The effected software is still deployed today, and was used everywhere from '94 thru my graduation. All it took was physical access to a machine with netware client or a network logon... heh.

I discovered this by downloading the executables (free) from the company's website and doing 'strings sism.exe | less'. Behold, 10 minutes into tinkering, I had a 0day vuln for every school in the state. Not just grades, but lunch money, too... everything.

-NIKOB. =).

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389904)

was the password on a piece of paper in the office and he just know where it was stored it?

It doesn't matter under the law. If you enter my house and remove my property from it, it's irrelevant that you found the key under the mat - you're still guilty of breaking and entering and of theft.

(And no, my key isn't under the mat, I'm smarter than that. A fellow geocacher might find it, but not an ordinary burglar.)

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (2)

FLEABttn (1466747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390078)

This happened at my high school years ago (aside from the grade selling). The student in question put keyloggers on a number of PC's in one lab trying to get a friend's Ragnarok Online password, but instead got the system admin login info. He was caught when his calculus teacher went to change the grade of one of her other students from the semester before and discovered his D- became a straight C.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390094)

Posting for reasons that will become clear...I may have shared this story as an AC in the past.

When I was a freshman, I guessed the password to the instructors application (which had been freely deployed to a PC in the library -- this was in '90, I think). I typed "teacher" for a username, and then had to think about the password choices... Well, I was attending [cityname] West High School. Most of us might say, "Yes, I go to West High". And of course everyone understood that. So after three other failed attempts, I typed "westhigh". Ta-da! In.

The app actually only controlled student registration for the different courses and had nothing to do with grades. But I made a mistake of showing a classmate, (we'd changed the password) who then continued to play in the app, screwing with stuff, we'd changing the password, and got caught. And of course he fingered me as being an accomplice. Asshole. We got off easy -- gave them the password so they could get back in (apparently, there's no main administrator password??) and paid a $50 "fine" directly to the school. No mark on my school record.

Re:was the password on a piece of paper in the off (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390658)

That is in addition to the fact that it seems to be remained the same "over the course of two semesters"

Somehow (3, Funny)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389152)

Last year, Coyner somehow obtained a password to the Pahrump Valley High School's grade system...

"password", mmm, no. "123456" Oh, hey -- we're in!

Spaceballs (4, Funny)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389218)

> "password", mmm, no. "123456"

Remind me to change the combination on my luggage.

Re:Somehow (1, Redundant)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389226)

"123456" Hey, that's the combination on my luggage

Re:Somehow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389356)

Good thing I use ******* as my password.

Re:Somehow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390542)

How about Username: Guest Password:

They cut right through.. (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389170)

his ROT-26 encryption!

Get out, Lightman! (5, Funny)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389172)

We need to come down hard on miscreants like this. Sure, right now he's stealing passwords from the school office and changing grades, but soon that won't be enough for him, and before long he'll be wardialing military contractors with his IMSAI 8080 and acoustocoupler modem.

Re:Get out, Lightman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389274)

Worse, he may start up a software company, stealing stuff from others, reducing the quality of programming overall, and eventually become the richest man in the world, while having the most porous software in the world. Oh wait...

Or maybe he could go on celebrity apprentice? Or change the ratings of those who do, for a fee.

Or maybe he could go into politics, and have the taxpayers buy his buddy's electronic voting machines, and...

Re:Get out, Lightman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389338)

reducing the quality of programming overall

...So, wait - the guy behind PHP is the richest man in the world?

Re:Get out, Lightman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389712)

Worse, he may start up a software company, stealing stuff from others, reducing the quality of programming overall, and eventually become the richest man in the world, while having the most porous software in the world. Oh wait...

Why would he want to be Steve Jobs?

Re:Get out, Lightman! (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389662)

But who else will convince Prof. Faulken to teach Joshua that the only winning move is not to play? And besides, grades want to be A's and I don't believe in GPAs. Also, the entire education system is broken, so it's our moral imperative to break the rules.

I bet it was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389212)

asdfgh

Not really cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389266)

He just misinterpreted the rules.

IT staff got some 'splainin to do (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389268)

Not changing a password at least once in two semesters, i.e., a whole school year. Tsk tsk.

Some schools don't even have IT staff or it's tack (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389670)

Some schools don't even have IT staff or it's tacked on to someone job and is not done full time.

Re:Some schools don't even have IT staff or it's t (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389732)

Honestly, it's not that hard. If you're changing them by hand on more than a few machines then you're doing it wrong.

kid has a great career ahead (1)

toby (759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389270)

I'm sure Goldman Sachs and major banks are scrambling over themselves to offer him a fat six figure starting salary.

Top Student (3, Insightful)

neoform (551705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389278)

Was he really the top student, or did he fix his own grades too?

Re:Top Student (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389318)

It's in TFA. He shouldn't have been on the podium giving the graduation address.

Great controls from the administration... nobody raised any questions when this kid teachers had tagged as a good, but not outstanding student turned up with the second highest GPA?

Oh Yeah! (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389292)

Save Ferris

And he dreams of being a hedge fund trader (5, Funny)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389302)

In the Pahrump Valley Times profile, Coyner says he dreamed of attending an Ivy league school like Harvard and that he wanted to become a hedge fund trader.

Wow. A lying, cheating, bastard dreams of being a hedge fund trader. I'm sure that the guild of hedge fund traders will bar him preemptively from joining them, thereby preventing everyone's pristine reputation as ethical and trustworthy human beings from being sullied by association.

ROFLMAO (0)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389344)

"Hedge fund trader", "ethical", "trustworthy" being used in the same sentence = ROFLMAO

Re:Charlie.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389418)

Mr. Sheen....is that you?

Re:And he dreams of being a hedge fund trader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390306)

Wow! That buried the needle on the sarcasm meter!

Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389348)

OK, so reading this I ended up with a few questions

  1. How often was that password changed? For something like the grade system I would be thinking more than once a year. Unless they knew where the password was being kept which leads to
  2. Name on account. I'm going to assume that this was some sort of administrator (as in school, but maybe computer) that had access to change the grades for anyone. But then, maybe they give every teacher an ability to change any one's grade, for any class.
  3. Location Access. Did they not track where it was being accessed from? Or was this account used in such a way that they didn't care where it was accessed
  4. Audit Trails? Any sort of audit trails showing what got changed and when? Maybe for an account that can change anyone's grade like that they should also include where it was being changed from.(See location access above) Maybe if they are running some software on the local box, the name of the logged in computer user as well as the grade system user.
  5. Changing grades. What procedure is in place for changing old grades? If a grade gets changed 3/6/9/12 months after the end of the grade period, does the system not flag and ask any questions as to why? And if an admin can change it without the system reporting it to anyone, then how can we be sure that the administrators aren't doing that. (Oh that "A-" last year was a surely a typo. Let's fix that to an "A". No one will ever know, Mr. and Mrs. Doe)

Or, is this an all grades get entered for everything as opposed to a just final grade, and the system computes the final grade for the course. Most of those points still apply. And I would want to think that some teachers are going to have some idea of what grades they gave the student and would be able to notice a drastic change.
But then, an "A-" to an "A" might not be noticed depending on what all the student did over the grade period because it isn't too drastic.

Re:Questions (1)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389512)

I suppose all these questions only matter when you're going through the web-pages to modify the grades. If you had access to the database and could run SQL commands on them, then all these questions would be void. Passwords for databases don't get changed since it's assumed no-one but internal scripts use them.

On the other hand, the software that manages things like grades and such are big bloated turds that no-one wants to get their hands dirty with beside the minimum requirements. It could be just that nobody cared to analyze the logs until the anomalies just became too big. Just like you said, each procedure is a boring, tedious list of requirements that no-one wants to learn and follow and when things go wrong it's not obvious to anyone.

Leading to the next, if the guy hadn't gotten greedy and doing it for money, he would never have been caught. How many people out there change grades and are never caught? Grades are all hush hush and even if things get changed, nobody would really know.

Re:Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389876)

Just because they can run the SQL commands doesn't mean that an audit table would not have helped with damage control (ie, correcting changed grades, seeing who might have had their grades changed by correlating times). (Assuming they didn't have a DB Admin account).
Standard audit tables stuff. Make the audit table INSERT only (as in no SELECT, DELETE, UPDATE, or anything else) with a trigger on insert/update/delete on the grade table. A normal user has no access to see in the audit table, and with some systems, users can't even see the insides of the trigger. Any updates? The old data gets stored in the audit table along with the date and user name that did it. Deletes? The old data gets stored in the audit table along with the date and user name who did it. Inserts? Copy of new data stored in the audit table along with the date and user name who did it.

In addition, an auto-incrementing number in the audit table, so that if a row in the audit table is deleted, then all the rows following would that have to have their numbers changed so there wouldn't be a gap. (A suggestion I got from someone else)
While that wouldn't be hard to change if they had admin access to the DB, it would still be one more thing they would have to change. If a row is just missing, you have a timeframe to go looking at other logs.

All bets are off if they have DB admin access. But if they had DB admin access, there is a much bigger problem at hand.

But then as you said, "It could be just that nobody cared to analyze the logs until the anomalies just became too big."

Re:Questions (2)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389520)

So what? Those might explain why the system was able to be penetrated, but it does nothing to reduce the accountability of the student that made the changes.

Re:Questions (1)

lamber45 (658956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389580)

Not a direct answer to your questions, but based on the links on the lower-right of the school's homepage [k12.nv.us] they're using Pearson PowerSchool [pearsonschoolsystems.com] , which has a teacher's gradebook module as well as several categories of central-administrative functions. I'd guess he shoulder-surfed, found written or guessed someone's password at some point, but as to whether he used the normal system UI or directly edited some back-end database, I wouldn't bet either way.

Based on other public information, last year's senior class was 203 students ... so almost 10% wanted to buy higher grades? No wonder he got caught...

Overheard At The Town Council Meeting... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389350)

"I didn't get a 'Pahrump' out of you."

"Pahrump!"

"You watch your ass."

He has a good future. (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389376)

After college, he will probably get tapped by a rating agency right away. Standards & Poors, Fitch, whatever.

lucky brat. then he will be able to fix grades all he wants, and will be paid for and applauded for it.

Password. (0)

generic (14144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389388)

Was probably pencil.

No worse than most corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389410)

Greed is destroying America, indeed, the excessively rich are evil traitors. Scumbags.

He is getting more offers now. (3, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389420)

Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, McKenzy etc are all at awe by the precocious ability shown by this young man. Mr Werobam Erica, spokesman for the Cleptolegit Institute, a think tank where finance managers of the top companies exchange ideas about how to rake in millions of dollars and amending the laws post-facto to make it legal, said that this man is CEO material and predicted great things in store for him.

Re:He is getting more offers now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389472)

A five year old could take a password off a post-it-note and break into a system. Let's not give him more credit than he deserves.

This is a great teachable moment (1)

DataDiddler (1994180) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389438)

When a user complains about a sound password policy, this story is a good explanation of why it's really not just the admin's special way of annoying everyone.

but the grade system may just have 1 login that is (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389598)

but the grade system may just have 1 login that is used by more then 1 person or it's some system that does not have policy's.
Also schools some times still use lots of old software.

Re:This is a great teachable moment (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389750)

I changed brokerages recently to one that has some annoying log in policies. I just remind myself that banks should be going the extra mile to make things annoying, even if it is annoying at times.

"I asked for a car.... (1)

DustoneGT (969310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389446)

And got a computer. How's that for being born under a bad sign?". Meanwhile across town..."...nine times......GRACE! GRACE!"

Re:"I asked for a car.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389482)

And I'm the sausage king of Chicago.

Would you like to play a game? (1)

idji (984038) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389878)

WarGames 1983 [wikipedia.org]

Future hedge fund trader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389880)

"In the Pahrump Valley Times profile, Coyner says he dreamed of attending an Ivy league school like Harvard and that he wanted to become a hedge fund trader." No surprises here.

Local information and link (3, Informative)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389928)

I own some property in Pahrump (but don't live there, although I'm there quite a lot). So I can tell you the level of technical savvy in Pahrump is unbelievably low.

Even basic things, like fairly well established 'net conventions have not penetrated very far. For example, many local Gov. officials send all caps emails (but then so does a fairly large % of the local populace).

Nevada in general, and Pahrump in particular, are among the nations lowest ranked in education. The Nevada educational systems are in desperate need of overhaul.

It is also worth noting that when arrested in his University of Nevada, Reno dorm, he had a stolen TV and equipment for making counterfeit drivers' licenses.

Here's a link to the local paper, with pictures and local comments; http://pvtimes.com/news/grade-change-scandal-rocks-pvhs/ [pvtimes.com]

A quote from the comments by "3rd year Engineering Student":

@Isaac- I don't know the kid so I can't comment on his actual personality in different situations. It is unusual to have a smile when being arrested for a felony charge. Also hacking a system is really just the same as getting a code to access it without authorization. He also "hacked" when he changed his GPA. Given he actually did these things, he would be considered a "Black Hat Hacker" which is the worst type of hacker(there are good hackers like web designers). You need to check the definition of a hacker.

I think "3rd year Engineering Student" may need to check some definitions himself... but the pathetic part is that no one questions his expertise, or the definitions he offers.

Pahrump is a nice place in many ways, but it's also a lot like stepping back in time in many ways. The population is about 35,000, and it's about 50 miles from Las Vegas.

Remember guys... (1)

Draconis183 (1871664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389974)

GOD is not a good password.

Nothing Special (1)

Krovik (1050856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390196)

At least not in my opinion. My buddy did the same thing when we were in high school about 6 or 7 years ago. Booted up in Linux, copied the SAM file over, cracked it at home. Did it a few times until we found one that the administrator account had logged into. He was never caught until the end of the year because we decided to pull a prank and change the standard wallpaper for all the student accounts to this http://img689.imageshack.us/img689/7629/gib.png [imageshack.us] . He was caught because as it turns out, the system was setup to capture screenshots of anyone logged in every 10 seconds, combined with the fact that he signed in to the library to use the computer, they were able to catch him. I don't think they ever found out about changing some grades, but I'm not sure about that.

Sounds good to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390244)

Seems smart to me, other than getting caught. If I could have changed grades in highschool/university, I would have. I cracked the password to a high level account in hs, but all it did was let me install applications and change other people's passwords.

Give him a bonus (1)

Sprouticus (1503545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390402)

I don't see the issue here. We raise our children to believe that money is the most important thing in the world, and they act accrdingly. Why on earth would that surprise anyone?

The hedge fund thing just highlights the point.

Re:Give him a bonus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390680)

Pahrump! Pahrump!

"top" student charged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390582)

The school official who left the grade system wide open should lose his/her job.
I would imagine he thinks of himself as a "professional"; therefore, hold him professionally accountable.
What school software is this that doesn't have a higher level of security for something as important as grade changes?
Heads should roll in the school district. Give the kids a second chance.

recipe for admin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390760)

intelligent + duplicitous + brave + belief that he is above the law = top leadership position in government

Conspiracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390836)

Police say Tyler Coyner, 19, was the ringleader in a group of 13 students who have been charged with conspiracy [...]

Conspiracy to do what? Or is just plain "conspiracy" enough to get you charged nowadays? "Theft" does not seem applicable, but it's a real crime at least, and "computer intrusion" sounds relevant enough, but what kind of crime exactly is "conspiracy"?

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