Teens expelled in keylogging of school computers

Eleven high school students are paying the price for allegedly keylogging their teachers' computers and changing grades at will.

Charlie Osborne Contributing Writer
Charlie Osborne is a cybersecurity journalist and photographer who writes for ZDNet and CNET from London. PGP Key: AF40821B.
Charlie Osborne
2 min read
Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif. Screenshot by CNET

Eleven students apparently involved in a hacking scandal to change their grades were expelled this week from their high school in Newport Beach, Calif.

The Corona del Mar High School students were accused of using keyloggers to spy on their teachers' computer systems, infiltrate the network, and change their grades electronically.

Six of the students have left the district, and five have been transferred to other schools.

The students in question allegedly worked with a local tutor to learn how to hack into the school systems to change their grades and steal test papers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a science teacher sounded the alarm after becoming concerned that someone may have accessed her computer and altered grades.

District officials say the tutor instructed students to attach keylogger devices to the computers in order to scrape user log-in details and passwords, which would later be used to change student grades and access English, science and history exams -- some of which were at honor and Advanced Placement levels.

The officials say they are unsure of how many grades were changed and are in the midst of examining the scope of the scandal. In total, 52,000 grades issued over 12 months are now under audit to work out whether grades were input by teachers or changed by network infiltrators.

In a statement, the Newport Mesa Unified School District said Wednesday:

The Board's action imposes discipline upon these students for the maximum allowed by the Education Code for what occurred at Corona del Mar High School...The Newport Beach Police Department is currently seeking to interview the alleged private tutor regarding his involvement in the incident.

The District is currently involved in an intensive audit of all CdM teachers' grade books so that we can ensure the integrity and accuracy of all posted grades. The District has also taken preventative measures and is implementing a new notification system districtwide to flag grade changes.

This story originally posted as "High school students expelled for keylogging teacher computers" on ZDNet.