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[ISN] Lafayette suspends four for computer hacking spree
From: William Knowles (wkC4I.ORG)
Date: Sun Nov 05 2000 - 23:40:48 CST
By Linda B. Blackford
HERALD-LEADER EDUCATION WRITER
Published Friday, November 3, 2000, in the Herald-Leader
Four computer-savvy Lafayette High School students had a fine time
last week they hacked into the school's computer system and shut down
computers one by one until the entire network went down.
Three different times.
But this week, home is where the hacking is, as the four boys finish
10-day suspensions from school.
Two of the 10th-graders may face expulsion because they hacked into
some teacher workstations, which contain grades and other confidential
Principal Mike McKenzie says some parents think he's overreacting with
the punishments, but McKenzie thinks students have to know that school
is a hack-free zone.
``This is serious; it's zero tolerance,'' he said. ``You cannot go
into school computers.''
The school's technology department was able to track the students down
through the network. The students were not identified because of
student confidentiality laws.
McKenzie said the four students hacked into the system and got hold of
what's known as the IP addresses, or numeric identifiers, of all the
school's computers. With those numbers, they could shut down different
computers. Whatever students or teachers were working on when the
computers went down was lost.
McKenzie said none of the boys had a good reason for the pranks, aside
from wanting a little computer fun. They didn't go so far as to access
teacher files or change grades.
``If I had thought that there was ill intent, we would have filed
criminal charges,'' he said.
It's not clear yet whether the school board will uphold the
expulsions. But all Fayette County students are required to sign an
``Acceptable Use Policy,'' which forbids system hacking and other
David Couch, the state's technology chief, says that breaking into any
government computer system without permission is a criminal offense.
``People used to think it was funny when kids hacked into a system,
but now it's much more serious because so much of a school's
organization is done through a computer,'' he said.
He thinks it's important for schools to send a strong message to
students, as well as letting them know how easy it is to track
perpetrators through a network.
Schools are aided by the state's Internet filter system, which not
only blocks inappropriate sites, but also allows schools to see
exactly where students landed in cyberspace.
Computer break-ins are a new educational danger in an age when
children often know a lot more about computers than their parents or
teachers do. In many schools, for example, students serve as technical
assistants to program and fix computers.
``We do have kids who help us, and we do have a lot of safeguards in
place,'' McKenzie said. ``The thing that concerns me is a lot of kids
will not do inappropriate things, but when it comes to computers
there's a certain amount of anonymity, so they feel as though it's not
"Communications without intelligence is noise; Intelligence
without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
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