Purdue students charged with switching prof's keyboard to improve grades

Three Purdue students have been accused of entering their professor's computer and changing their grades -- even A to A+. They're said to have switched out the professor's keyboard to log keystrokes and glean passwords.

Purdue has a lofty engineering tradition. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Who understands the importance of performance better than an engineer?

Yet the pressures that come with performing to perfect levels can cause some engineers to cut corners, even obfuscate.

How tragic, then, that three apparently bright (or not quite so bright) young things studying engineering at Purdue University have been charged with using their skills to artificially jack up their grades.

I am not sure how sophisticated this alleged scheme was.

It all began to allegedly unravel at the end of 2012 when an engineering professor was suddenly struck by suspicion that the password on his computer kept changing. He knew he hadn't changed it.

So, as the Indiana Journal and Courier reports, the university's IT security team went into action.

It discovered that the professor's computer had been accessed to allegedly make students seem a touch more clever than they were.

I mention that this scheme might have been less than sophisticated because one of the accused students is said to have been logged onto to the university's Wi-Fi network using his own name.

Those from the sophisticated underworld might think this was a less than stellar thought process from a student of aeronautics and astronautics.

The more the university investigated, the wider the accusations became.

An electrical engineering student was also charged with multiple offenses.

A nuclear engineering major was accused of changing just one grade. He was also said to be the lookout.

Why would they need a lookout? Because the scheme allegedly involved switching the professor's keyboard with one that looked the same, but had a key-logging device inserted.

With this simple ruse, the professor's passwords were allegedly gleaned.

You might wonder whether all these students needed to change their grades.

According to the police, one had nine F's and one incomplete. It would seem hard not to improve on that.

On the other hand, another student, who is accused of changing a total of 24 grades, allegedly altered two A's to A+.

Two of the students have been charged with a multitude of felonies and misdemeanors -- you know, things like burglary, trespassing, and computer tampering -- while the other is reportedly in Japan.

I fear their resumes might, if they are proved guilty, suffer.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

TechProbe Volunteers Wanted: Huawei Mate 7

Your chance to test drive and keep the Huawei Mate 7 phone

Tell us about the technology you're using right now, and how a smartphone could help you in your professional life.