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Education Idle

3rd Grader Accused of Hacking Schools' Computer System 344

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-that-kid-a-gold-star dept.
Gud writes "According to The Washington Post a 9-year-old was able to hack into his county's school computer network and change such things as passwords, course work, and enrollment info. From the article: 'Police say a 9-year-old McLean boy hacked into the Blackboard Learning System used by the county school system to change teachers' and staff members' passwords, change or delete course content, and change course enrollment. One of the victims was Fairfax Superintendent Jack D. Dale, according to an affidavit filed by a Fairfax detective in Fairfax Circuit Court this week. But police and school officials decided no harm, no foul. The boy did not intend to do any serious damage, and didn't, so the police withdrew and are allowing the school district to handle the half-grown hacker.'"
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3rd Grader Accused of Hacking Schools' Computer System

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  • by Tumbleweed (3706) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:39PM (#31875062)

    Zero Cool strikes again. Mess with the best, die like the rest!

    • Or maybe Oliver Wendall Jones [yimg.com]?
    • Re:Dade Murphy? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@@@gmail...com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:01PM (#31877844)
      When I was in high school, I was in the library one time working on a project. The internet was acting flaky, so I fired up the command prompt. A nearby librarian saw me running ipconfig, and immediately notified the principle. I was sent down to the office and screamed at by the principle and a few other administrators for exhibiting 'possible terrorist activity'. They banned me from computers for the rest of my senior year, and I had to go to 2 after-school detentions, (A+ student, no prior record at the school). Even after trying to explain myself to the district IT admin, I was fed the line "You were doing something unauthorized, so you pay the price".

      Fuck you WHS.
      • Re:Dade Murphy? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:45PM (#31878374)
        And you are wondering why Europeans laugh hysterically when Americans tell us they live in the freest country in the world.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          It is kind of funny (I'm in the UK), but I'll tell you what, I could be arrested in this country for the fact that I sympathise with people who carry out suicide bombings. Honestly, I do, I mean how bad must things be if they really feel that blowing themselves up in a busy public place is an appropriate action? They must be absolutely desperate. I'm not saying I agree with their methods, I'm weird because I'm an atheist who for some odd reason also believes in the "no killing" rule. But the point remai
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tompaulco (629533)
        You had the internet in High School? Luxury! ipconfig hadn't even been invented when I went to high school. It was so early in the computer era that they still thought keyboarding ought to be a prerequisite to a programming class.
  • More likely, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:40PM (#31875076) Homepage
    Some dumb teacher probably just left their admin password laying around on a post-it note, or hell even left some admin interface open unattended, and doesn't want to admit it. Therefor, "hacking"!
    • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rary (566291) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:42PM (#31875106)

      Some dumb teacher probably just left their admin password laying around on a post-it note, or hell even left some admin interface open unattended, and doesn't want to admit it. Therefor, "hacking"!

      Actually, although TFA doesn't provide any details about how the "hack" occurred, they do differentiate between this and a similar case where someone merely obtained someone else's password. The implication of the article is that there was actual technical skill of some kind involved.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by digitalunity (19107)

        Probably not much skill required. Anecdotal I'm sure, but I've read online of other "hacking" done to Blackboard's software.

        This kind of leads me to believe they just have really shitty security. Reminds me of the screen lock software they installed on the old Mac's we had when I was in middle school.

        Move the mouse and it appears to ask you for a password, but click in the very far lower left corner and it let you in...

        Any security device designed with an intentional circumvention probably has a security ho

        • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Insightful)

          by RobDude (1123541) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:49PM (#31876094) Homepage

          In my experience - this.

          I don't know why schools are this giant black hole of suck - but they are. My school was very well-to-do, and had some of the highest paid teachers in the country. I don't know why they could find an IT guy who could follow industry accepted best practices.

          If you can't stop a curious, bored, student - who really doesn't know jack; you have no business working in IT.

          I love how everyone wants to attack the kids in these school + computer security cases. Nobody ever wants to talk about the trained 'professional' whose job is to prevent these things - getting schooled (haha) by a kid.

          Instead of kicking the kid out of school - why not fire the IT guy, get a real IT guy, and then, let the kid (who will proudly offer it up) show the new IT guy what he did. The new IT guy will shake his head and go, 'Yeah - that should be locked down'.

          • Re:More likely, (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:22PM (#31876560)

            I don't know why schools are this giant black hole of suck

            Multiple reasons. First off, schools don't pay shit. If you have the skills to do IT for public K-12 schools then you have the skills to get a far better job in the corporate world. And secondly, schools are horrible places to work. I worked in IT from 1996 through to the summer of 2009. During that time I had a couple of short stints where I worked IT in two separate K-12 school districts and they were easily the worst jobs that I have had in my entire life. In one of the places I was something like the twelfth IT director that they had hired in the past few years. The turnover rate was approximately one per every eight weeks. It sucked that bad.

            IT in schools sucks because nobody with any skill is willing to do it. It is shitty work, you are treated horribly and you are paid poorly.

          • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Insightful)

            by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:47PM (#31876982) Journal
            I've done some school IT work.

            Here's my experience: The pay is pretty unexciting; but the pressure is correspondingly low. Corp pays better; but teachers are so much nicer to deal with(obviously teachers aren't 100% angels, and corporate isn't 100% nutjobs; but the difference between working in a place where the average response is "Hey, thanks a lot for fixing that!" and one where the average hovers around "OK" or "Well, why wasn't it done yesterday? I have things that need to get done!" makes a fair difference in one's state of mind at the end of the day). Because the pay isn't so exciting, you don't get many of your truly driven types; but because the conditions are OK, you do get better help than you would expect.

            The real kicker, security wise, in my experience is the demand for ease-of-use and heavy use of various ghastly legacy software(stuff that shipped with textbooks and whatnot). I spent a lot of time grovelling through psmon traces, trying to get crap to run under limited accounts with as few security-compromising modifications as possible. Still, sometimes, you just had to do gross stuff to make it work.

            The ease of use thing caused some limitations as well. Yeah, we knew that kids were bringing in crap on flash drives. Could we have stopped that trivially? Sure. No big deal. Except the shitstorm that would break out when all the faculty and students who shuttle work to and from school on flash drives learn what they can no longer do. Internet filtering was in the same bucket. Yeah, we have a firewall and a proxy, we can be as draconian as you like. Wait, so you don't actually want draconian? Ok. Yup, we knew that we could use Software Restriction policies, make sure that the set of locations that users can write to/mount from external media and set of places from which the system will execute binaries are disjoint, all that stuff. No problem. We could even set it so that ain't nothing gonna run unless the IT department has signed the binaries with their own private key. Guess what? The users, and Admin, would have had our heads. Teachers shoving in CDs from various textbooks and expecting the (usually Macromedia director based) content to Autoplay was a daily use case, among numerous others.

            Then you get into the issue of legacy server software. Just as "enterprise" can be used as a epithet when describing software quality, and most enterprises of decent size have some real horrors lurking at the dark heart of their IT-assisted business processes, so does education. Bespoke crap, student information databases that were designed by people who thought that Windows 3.1 was too visually elegant and user-friendly, and that SQL was something that happened to other people, that sort of thing.

            I don't intend this as a general apology for the state of educational IT, some of it is incompetence driven; but, a lot of it is pretty much like corporate IT, just with less money(and corporate IT has a few security issues [arstechnica.com] of its own.) The same basic dynamics are in place. Some incompetence, some crap legacy software that you can't get rid of for organizational reasons, some security measures that are possible; but would cost too much or upset too many legitimate users, and so forth...
        • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AngryNick (891056) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:05PM (#31876294) Homepage Journal
          As my 8 and 12 year old daughters have explained it to me, it is more likely that Junior guessed the username/password for a few key accounts and leapfrogged up the food chain from there. The student accounts in the lower grades are generally based on the student's id and a formula driven password that any 2nd grader could figure out. More cracking that hacking.

          This is just one more thing to add to my list of worries for my girls:
          • Getting knocked up
          • Locking me out of their Linux machines
          • Going to jail for hacking blackboard
          • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:26PM (#31876626)

            I've got a six-year-old girl, and the only one that I'm worried about is #1. If that happens before she's ready, then I have failed as a father.

            #2 gets rewarded. "WTF did you do here? I've got physical access and you've locked me out. Let me order you some RAM and you can show me what you did." (She uses Puppy now.)

            Long before #3 happens, there would be a legal and media shitstorm to keep her out of jail. We've got a family lawyer, and really, Blackboard, do you want Everyone to know that a teenager can easily bypass your security protocols?

            She got one of her friends to give up their "webkins" password. It's really hard to tell her "that's wrong" when you're really thinking, "fucking AWESOME! High five and ice cream!"

      • by skill do you mean running a script that was copied from the internet.
        • Re:More likely, (Score:4, Insightful)

          by G00F (241765) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:10PM (#31875512) Homepage

          for a 9 year old, that would be skill.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by coolsnowmen (695297)

            Agreed, noone starts programming w/o ever seeing someone elses code. Most of my code now is from scratch (or from my own previous code), but at one time I looked at a lot of examples from books/internet to see how things were done.

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

                We all have to start somewhere. First it's discovering that it can be done. Then it's migrating to script kiddie level. Before you know it, he'll be writing the next killer app. I'm glad that the police were invited to step away so the school could just warn him where the fine line is between knowledge and abuse.

          • When i was 9 i was doing BASIC programming on my Commodore 64!

        • by spazdor (902907) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:15PM (#31875596)

          Yeah, preteens ain't got any skillz unless they've coded their own sploit. I bet this kid doesn't even know how to write kernel patches. What a retard.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by poena.dare (306891)

        It's Blackboard Learning System (BLS) - many schools use it. Chances are he did it through URL manipulation. I tried to get my son the hack it but he refused. He said, "I don wanna know about web sites and stuff and then end up haffin to fix Mom's computer like you, Pop." Broke my heart. :(

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FTFA:

      In January, students at Churchill High School in Montgomery County broke into their system to change grades, but that involved stolen passwords, not hacking, and did not involve Blackboard, Montgomery police said.

    • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:47PM (#31875184)
      Even more likely: Had security been adequate to keep out a determined nine-year-old, it also would have completely stymied the teachers and administrators.

      Even more likely than that: Some teacher who "knew a lot about computers" set up the system in his/her spare time.
      • Well, now they can hire the 9 year old to be their systems admin. He obviously knows more about security than they do.
      • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nametaken (610866) * on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:12PM (#31875554)

        Let's not make excuses for the fact that Blackboard SUCKS in every conceivable way, as it has since schools first started using it.

        If there's any problem at all with some staff member's abilities, it manifest itself in the decision to license that pile of trash in the first place.

        • Re:More likely, (Score:4, Insightful)

          by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:18PM (#31875642)
          Having been a teacher at the local community college, and having used that egregious POS, I have to agree completely. I'd think rather be homeless (or be sentenced for life to use Access) than have to deal with Blackboard again.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by TougaSempai (259023)

            or be sentenced for life to use Access

            Oh, come on -- it couldn't be THAT bad.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Minwee (522556)

              Oh, come on -- it couldn't be THAT bad.

              Oh, yes, Access certainly is bad enough to be compared to Blackboard.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by iamhassi (659463)
          "Let's not make excuses for the fact that Blackboard SUCKS in every conceivable way, as it has since schools first started using it."

          The problem is the system has to be easy enough for your average teacher to use it but hard enough a child can't hack it.

          That's probably very difficult to do. I'd imagine this "hack" was easier than they're willing to admit, let's not forget this 9 yr old just recently learned how to read most the content required to even start hacking.

          But let's play devil's advocate
      • Even more likely than that: Some teacher who "knew a lot about computers" set up the system in his/her spare time.

        That seems far-fetched. There are FOSS tools like Moodle -- Blackboard, by contrast, is going to cost you. As their website doesn't specify a price, you can expect the price to be tailored to your individual institution, or in other words, likely several hundred dollars at least, probably in the thousands.

        That's a guess, but it seems doubtful, or at least stupid, to allow "some teacher who knew a lot about computers" to have that much purchasing power.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Minwee (522556)

          you can expect the price to be tailored to your individual institution, or in other words, likely several hundred dollars at least, probably in the thousands.

          I think you missed "Per student" and "annually" at the end of that.

          The typical customer licensing the works will pay $160,000 - per year [mfeldstein.com]. Even small victims are being bled for upwards of $50,000 every year just for the joy of being permitted to use Blackboard.

          Blackboard doesn't sell to teachers or even individual schools, they target entire distric

      • by Tolkien (664315)
        The trick see, is to use child-safe pill-bottle caps on everything, including computer security-measures. Think of the children, people!
      • by Kozz (7764)

        Even more likely: Had security been adequate to keep out a determined nine-year-old, it also would have completely stymied the teachers and administrators.

        I would guess that stupid security is sufficient. I know of an instance back in 1990 (*cough* ahem, excuse me) where students had access to computers in a library. Those computers also had enrollment/administration software installed on them. The username guessed was "teacher", and the password guessed was "westhigh" (for [cityname] West High School). It seems the student only guessed perhaps a half dozen times before access was granted.

    • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Informative)

      by commandermonkey (1667879) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:59PM (#31875330)
      ABS News has another article about the incident:

      According to a search warrant, the computer savvy boy was able to get a hold of an administrator's password at Spring Hill Elementary to get into the Blackboard learning system

      http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0410/726170.html [wjla.com]

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County public school system had a security system of some sort for years where the password for all the teachers was "teach". This was a pretty well-known "secret" among the student body. It might have mattered if you couldn't have snuck around half the lame restrictions anyway with some selective right-clicking on folders in the 'Save' and 'Open' dialog boxes of IE or Notepad.
      • by spazdor (902907)

        Hah. I remember those lame-ass win95/98 "kiosk" mods. I think my school used one called FoolProof.
        No actual program execution control or permissions policies, they just disabled some UI elements (like the Incredible Vanishing Start Menu) and hoped that no teenager had ever used a CLI before.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This happened to my younger brother when he was in junior high (10 years ago).

      He had a relatively good understanding of computers at the time, and decided to go to 'right-click, explore' on the start button and found out a number of network mapped drives.

      He clicked on a few, and a password box poped up. He typed in "admin" and "admin" for both user and password. He looked around and found some interesting documents pertaining to school administrative officials. Before he was able to read them, the teacher c

    • by Jeng (926980)

      Or an easy to guess password.

      It was funny in typing class I got into the teachers account by typing (name of vice-principle)isanasshole. Like which student isn't going to randomly type that in?

    • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RobDude (1123541) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:45PM (#31876038) Homepage

      Nobody cares - but here is my evil 'hacker' story.

      When I was in high school, I was kicked out of my programming class, along with five other of my friends. We were marched down to the principal's office. I was given the title of 'ring-leader'. It was interesting stuff. Apparently, I was an evil hacker.

      At first, I was like, 'Don't worry guys' because, after all, I didn't do anything bad. I did some cool stuff - like a program to change the desktop resolution, so I could write code in 1024xwhatever instead of 800x600. We'd also enabled sharing of our network drive so that we could work on our class stuff from anywhere in the building (which meant I could do homework in the library).

      When I was in the room with the principal, she asked me to explain what increasing the resolution did, exactly. I tried my best, I told her....'Well, ummm....it means there are more pixels on the screen than you'd have otherwise....and it....ummm....gives you more space.'

      She paused....and said.....'So, you mean to tell me, you were able to see parts of the screen you weren't supposed to? Did you ever think that maybe there was a reason those parts of the screen were hidden!'

      I'm not joking. I'm not exaggerating. And at that point, I was basically forbidden to speak. Her mind was made up, my fate was sealed.

      I thought it was a pretty good explanation from a 16 year old kid who didn't really know jack and who was fairly nervous at the time.

      I was threated with expulsion from my school, kept out of class, given an F in my programming class (prior to this, I had an A+ and would literally go around and help other kids, the same as the teacher would. I'd spend hours in the library making my program do things far beyond the scope of the assignment. I was a great student).

      Eventually, after much drama, it was decided that I could remain in my school - but that I couldn't touch any school computers for the rest of my high school years. That's to say, for the entirety of my senior year, if I was in English class and we were supposed to type a paper - I had to sit there and not touch a computer.

      The stupidity is overwhelming to the point where it seems unfathomable.

      I still don't know what trigged it all. The things I did, I had permissions and access to do - so I don't see how that really fits as hacking. We had an idiot running the school, and apparently, an idiot running the IT department. I'm guessing that nothing was locked down and someone did something actually malicious and they looked and saw that, OMG, some kids are working on their homework in the library via their network drive! And so, we (and more specifically, I) became the target of their rage.

      Schaumburg High School/Sharon Cross - you suck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dragonslicer (991472)
        Just to toss in a contradictory story, I actually had pretty good experiences in high school with our computers. The school's system administrator was also a math teacher, but she knew what she was doing (as far as I could tell, anyway). I played around with Pascal programs a lot, and I hit the system's disk quota pretty easily. This was in the mid 1990's, so quotas were on the order of a few MB for each student. When I told the teacher that I was having a problem, she pretty much said "Oh, that's easy to f
      • Re:More likely, (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RanCossack (1138431) on Friday April 16, 2010 @05:35PM (#31877568)
        I had a similar yet oh-so-different experience in elementary school; I was less innocent to begin with, having found out the school was keeping test scores on a shared network drive with no password while I was trying to do something I vaguely recall had to do with getting a bomberman clone running.

        I told a teacher and happily went on my way; a few days later, the principal, a very friendly and well liked guy, called me to his office and nicely asked me not to browse the network shares on the school computers; it wasn't until years and years later that I found out what had almost happened to me.

        Years and years later, I found out from my parents that the school IT adminstrator had wanted to press criminal charges against me, expel me, and all that, and had convinced the board to go along with it. The school principle refused to do it and threatened to resign.

        Now, after college and after years of hearing all these horror stories from friends and reading about them online, I appreciate what an amazing principal my school had, and how lucky I was.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ltap (1572175)
        These little stories make me wonder - why didn't you appeal? Also, that feels far too extreme. The school could have the power to suspend/expel you, but not to alter your mark.

        The trouble I see is that most people think that schools principals have no superior, when it's possible (although hidden and heavily discouraged by schools, obviously) to appeal just about anything and complain up to the highest level. This was done with a bad math mark on one of my exams (which the teacher, who disliked me, thoug
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by RobDude (1123541)

          It did end up getting escalated to the district superintendents who ultimately decided upon the punishment.

          By the time they told us what it would be, I just wanted it all to be over, so I didn't much care. They didn't say they were going to give us F's - they just said that we'd be unable to return to the class and we'd receive 0s for everything we missed. And that, in the future, we'd be unable to use any of the school's computer equipment for any reason.

          I honestly figured I'd *still* get an A - the clas

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tsm_sf (545316)
      Some dumb teacher probably just left their admin password laying around on a post-it note[...]

      The password was "pencil".
  • by migla (1099771) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:41PM (#31875084)

    Pleasantly surprised by the last part of the summary:

    "But police and school officials decided no harm, no foul. The boy did not intend to do any serious damage, and didn't, so the police withdrew and are allowing the school district to handle the half-grown hacker."

    Didn't see that one coming. I thought I was in for a story of stupid teachers overreacting and a poor kid dealt with harshly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fantastic Lad (198284)

      No kidding!

      That brightened my day considerably. Though in a perfectly sane world, the police would never have become involved in the first place.

      -FL

      • I'm thinking that it is a product of a CYA sue-happy society. No one wants to take responsibility and have it be there problem when it goes wrong, and probably, school officials didn't have the technical expertise to even tell if harm was/wasn't done.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        In a perfectly sane world, no one would be using Blackboard to begin with.

    • by zero_out (1705074)
      If I were the one in charge of making the decision about what to do with this child, I would let him go and be thankful to him. He exposed a serious problem, and did no harm. If a 9 year old can do it, then a 17 year old can, and would be much more likely to cause harm. It's better to discover this problem with no damage being done, and fix it, than not discover it until someone who really knows what they're doing hacks in and actually does something destructive.
    • seriously, shouldn't he have been tasered a few times, then beaten for good measure?

    • That's because the weight of ripping on a 9 year old is still greater than the default entitlement to fly off the handle over any negative event. If he was 18 he should be in jail, 16 suspended, 12 juvenile school.. 9 is still too young to be a dbag towards the kid.. pretty close though

    • Yup. Now if only we could have as much sanity when a 5-year-old brings a GI Joe soldier figurine with a miniature plastic gun.

  • Two words (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jawn98685 (687784) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:41PM (#31875090)
    ...come immediatley to mind as I RTFA, "Terry Childs". This kid, admittedly, commits a crime by breaking into the school's computer system. Childs, on the other hand, did arguably prevent harm by carrying out his duty to maintain the network's security, and he's the one in jail.
    [shakes head]
    • by tacokill (531275) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:52PM (#31875240)
      Same for me! Right up until I realized the kid was 9....

      Come on, really? You're gonna make that comparison?
      • by Rhaban (987410)

        Come on, really? You're gonna make that comparison?

        Comparison seems fair to me.

        Terry Childs name is Childs, the kid is a child... the cases are very similar.

    • by nomadic (141991)
      Childs, on the other hand, did arguably prevent harm by carrying out his duty to maintain the network's security, and he's the one in jail.

      Childs had a responsibility to follow the instructions of his supervisors. It was not up to him to define the scope of his own employment. Just another narcissist network admin with a god complex.
    • childs had a god complex: "i am the only one who has the right to administer this network"

      he built the network for san francisco. san francisco had every right to do whatever it wanted to do with the network they hired him to build. if san francisco wanted to hand out passwords to the network to hackers, san francisco has that right, and childs has no right to any say on the matter

      the man was not protecting the security of the network, the man believed he and he alone had a right to decide what to do with t

      • by tsstahl (812393)

        his actions are completely indefensible.

        Really?

        Not a zeroeth law fan are you?

        Childs is an ass. I think we can all pretty much agree on that. However, his initial actions that started the cascade of buffoonery were well within his job description/duty. If as a worker bee someone outside my management structure, yet still well placed, asks for the keys to the kingdom, I'm going to politely point that person toward my management structure to service the request. If it can be immediately shown to me that providing said keys in a timely fashion co

      • by spazdor (902907)

        there's such a thing as taking pride in your work... then there is psychotically remaining attached to your work and assuming you and you alone can forever more decide how your work is used

        you should be arguing about copyrights before Congress.

  • In reality (Score:5, Funny)

    by mbone (558574) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:45PM (#31875150)

    ...so the police withdrew and are allowing the school district to handle the half-grown hacker.

    Of course, that's just what they are telling the press. In reality, of course, the boy is being put in charge of a supersecret underground Government cybersecurity lab on a deserted island even as we speak.

    • by Andorin (1624303)
      Absolutely. Now the government can actually respond to any claims that their security is so bad, even a nine-year-old could hack their systems.
  • Google (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mightysw (1643761) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:45PM (#31875152)
    The words, hack (crack) blackboard, and see how many cases come up. That thing is an abomination of teaching software that, unfortunately, is used across the country. Let the kid off. He did something that everybody else has already done.
  • Send this kid to study with Knuth [xkcd.com] immediately.

  • by axl917 (1542205) <axl@mail.plymouth.edu> on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:46PM (#31875170)

    It is more plausible that the school's Blackboard was mis-managed/mis-configured to allow access to areas it was not supposed to.

  • Doesn't seem plausible he hacked it, probably someone walked away from a machine while still logged in. Or this: http://xkcd.com/327/ [xkcd.com]
  • I could hack that POS in my sleep, and have multiple times. The University of Redlands has some of the most incompetent IT administrators EVER - hack blackboard, get access to student accounts, surf the web on their network with not a goddamned one of them being the wiser, under an account that I could use to frame that person.

    Doesn't help their wireless AP broadcasts into my apartment at such a high power level that it blocks out most of the other wireless APs when it's engaged. 5 bars on my router two feet away? As soon as a game starts up in their sports complex, I lose my router and I get a big fat UoR signal. I hack it EVERY SINGLE TIME and they're still not smart enough after several warnings to ditch blackboard and ResNet and find something more reliable.

    • by BitHive (578094) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:57PM (#31875306) Homepage

      This sounds like BS to me. If Blackboard was so bad, they would fail in the free marketplace and be put out of business. Since the value judgments of the free market are beyond reproach, the fact that Blackboard still exists and in fact is very expensive, means it is highly valuable and therefore good.

      I suspect you are just a communist detractor with elitist opinions.

      • It can sound like BS to you but a third grader just fucking owned the system. Even AOL wasn't THAT easy.

      • by ae1294 (1547521)

        This sounds like BS to me. If Blackboard was so bad, they would fail in the free marketplace and be put out of business. Since the value judgments of the free market are beyond reproach, the fact that Blackboard still exists and in fact is very expensive, means it is highly valuable and therefore good.

        HAHAHA.. I really hope you're joking.

        The Free market doesn't work like that when you inject blackjack and hookers into the equation. Do you really think that the teachers or IT staff for that mater get to decide what crapware is forced on them?

        I guess you've never worked in government... Honestly I'd like to know where you do work?

      • by gcatullus (810326)

        What is scary is that some people will read your comment literally, and they actually believe that.

      • by FooAtWFU (699187)

        See, this is government work. The "free market" doesn't operate very effectively here.

        (I've used it. Blackboard isn't total crap, but it is pretty bad.)

      • by Minwee (522556)

        the fact that Blackboard still exists and in fact is very expensive, means it is highly valuable and therefore good.

        Soooo... Which University do you make spending decisions at? Based on your comment I can narrow it down to a few hundred or so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BobMcD (601576)

      Could be a POS, not commenting there. However:

      1) You're admitting to a crime. Stop it. There is absolutely zero reason to do so unless you're desperate for the wrong kind of attention.

      2) Try a distinct channel. Assuming 802.11b/g you have three viable options. Try Channels 1/6/11. These are the only ones that do not overlap. They can't be occupying all of these at the same time, at the power levels you're stating they are. Or, if they genuinely are doing so, call the FCC and I imagine it'll stop fai

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by zippthorne (748122)

        Oh yeah. Get a radio amateur to measure the power levels. 802.11b gear is unlicensed, and as such the maximum allowed power is very low. A local amateur is likely to have both the equipment and the inclination to measure and report violating emissions.

  • Kidding? (Score:4, Funny)

    by grishnav (522003) <grishnav@nOsPam.egosurf.net> on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:55PM (#31875286) Homepage
    I thought I was only kidding when I said the security on Blackboard was so bad a 9 year old could hack it.
    • by matrim99 (123693)
      <quote>I thought I was only kidding when I said the security on Blackboard was so bad a 9 year old could hack it.</quote>

      Yeah, they took your advice into consideration when they implemented a "Please enter your age" pre-login screen to block out those nefarious 9 year olds.
      Looks like the wiley bastard must have lied about his age too.

      </fiction>.
  • by ewilts (121990) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:10PM (#31875516) Homepage

    ...their IT folks are not smarter than their 5th graders.

  • Reminds me of the time my HS computer teacher accused me of "hacking" into the network.

    What did I do? Pretty much opened Internet Explorer.

    Someone had set it's homepage to a local network drive instead of the usual homepage. I noticed this and opened up the folder to see what it was (it was a dev server for the school website or something). I was going to poke around but then it dawned on me that school website code was going to be horribly boring to read so I closed the window and forgot about it.

    So the

  • login: iladministrator
    pass: xxx

    Icon Unisys for life

  • A child of nine could hack this system. Send someone to fetch a child of nine.
  • Blackboard (Score:4, Informative)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:19PM (#31876522) Homepage

    Is the proprietary online education platform with an apparent side job as a patent troll, if memory serves.

    Given its closed nature, I wouldn't be surprised if their software is full to the brim of SQL injection, XSS and CSRF vulnerabilities that an interested elementary school student can exploit.

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:40PM (#31876872)

    I don't think many teachers really understand the word. I got suspended from school for "hacking" and bringing down the school network.

    I was in computer lab, which were all Macs, and not "Cool" Macs everyone has now, but the big square brick shaped monochrome screen macs. We had one PowerPC I think. Anyway I digress. So I was in lab finishing up an assignment, when I saw an option in the menu to "encrypt" my floppy disk after I had finished saving (as if I haven't dated myself already). Knowing what encryption was, and thinking it was neat that the option was available on the Mac I encrypted my floppy with a password to protect all my really important and top secret labs etc..

    Fast forward to the next day. I get brought into the Principals office in the morning, and accused of taking down the system. To which I have no idea what the hell they are talking about.

    Anyway long story short, my buddy that was sitting beside me, saw what I did, thought it was neat, and tried it himself. The differance being rather than selecting the "A:" drive... yes that's right he selected the "C:" drive. Encrypted the whole damn computer.

    Big deal you say? Well this was back when people still used "Ring" networks, which required being able to talk to its immediate two networked neighbors to function properly. One of them now a lump of encrypted uselessness. Though in defense the system was set up by our Grade 10 math teacher, not an IT professional.

    The guy also had no idea what he had entered for his password. Whole machine had to be wiped and re-installed. Which they also made me do as "punishment" after my suspension.

    Why did I get accused? Because they basically said my buddy wasn't smart enough to do it on his own, and that I "enabled" him to do it. So ya... that's how I got suspended for "hacking" when I was younger. I would not be surprised if it is something as idiotic or more so in this case.

    • by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @05:09PM (#31877298)

      6/10. Next time remember that drive letters belong to DOS, that most of the Mac with built-in monochrome CRTs didn't have internal hard drives, that token-ring devices were typically connected to a MSAU that took offline hosts out of the loop, and that encryption was not readily available -- particularly whole-disk encryption that can be applied while running from the disk in use -- anytime that the computers described in common use. Also try to work in an offensive or controversial person or group name for maximum effect.

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