Commack School Hacking: Students Accused Of Breaking Into School’s Computers To Be Jailed?

Commack High School students who were caught for hacking into the school’s computer system to allegedly change grades and schedules have been formally charged and may be jailed too.

Three New York high school students have been accused of hacking into their district’s computer system to alter student’s grades and schedules, confirmed local law enforcement officials. Daniel Soares, Erick Vaysman, and Alex Mosquera, all aged 17, have been arraigned for hacking into Commack High School’s computer system.

Daniel Soares has been labeled as the “mastermind” by the investigators who uncovered the successful hacking attempt. The three 17-year-old students face serious time in prison if found guilty. The initial hacking of the Commack High School computer happened over three months ago, added the investigators who traced the same to the house of Soares. All the three accused were arraigned in a Long Island courtroom Tuesday, reported CBS News.

The “hacking” was achieved by a simple device, commonly referred to as a “key logger.” Police believe Soares broke into Commack High School after school hours and quietly installed the key logger into one of the school’s computers that was meant for administrative use only. Once successfully installed, the key logger records every keystroke on the keyboard connected to the computer. Though the key logger may record thousands of keystrokes, using specific algorithms, it is quite easy to pick out information like login names and passwords. The key logger allowed Soares to collect logins and password credentials.

Commack School Hacking

Thinking it would be clever, Soares programmed the key logger so that it could be operated remotely from his home. He is believed to have physically accessed the restricted computer system on more than one occasion, perhaps once to install the key logger and at another time, to retrieve it. This is what makes him the primary culprit, indicated Suffolk Police Detective Sergeant John Best,

“We would consider Daniel to be the ringleader. He’s actually the student who accessed the school district computer on each of the events they’re charged with.”

Law enforcement officials added that the other two students were aware of the hacking but did not enter the school building. Hence, they face lesser charges, reported New York Post.

Using the login credentials, Soares is suspected to have changed several of his grades in physics, economics and history. For his colleagues, Soares altered their grades as per their wishes. One of the co-accused, Vaysman is believed to have indicated to Soares that he was “unhappy” with his grades because he thought; it was lower than what he expected. Besides changing grades, taking advantage of the unrestricted access, Soares also changed the schedules of hundreds of students, added Best.

“At this point, we believe Daniel changes four of his own grades…on his own grade was changed from a 94 to a hundred perfect score.”

Interestingly, Commack High School officials had realized their system had been hacked. Incidentally, it was the school authorities, who had noticed the hacking attempt and had called Suffolk County cops, who in turn investigated and quickly realized the origin lay at Soares’s house.

When the police turned up the primary accused house, he had disappeared, but returned about a week later and was arraigned. For hacking into Commack High School, authorities charged Soares with burglary and computer tampering, reported New York Daily News. His two accomplices have been charged with computer trespass. The trio was released on their own recognizance the same day they were arraigned.

None of the changes made by the students have gone unnoticed and school authorities have rectified whatever was changed, without affecting the students. Many feel the students might have done it to be cool. However, they have been formally charged for their foolish acts. Should the students be jailed for hacking into a high school computer system?

[Photo By Thomas Samson / Getty Images]