45 Students from a Louisiana high school have been suspended for suspected abuse of an unknown exploit used to hack into the schools grade system to change student grades without the teachers approval.
Over the past month and a half, Beau Chene High School located in Arnaudville, Louisiana has suspended over 45 students for allegedly illegally enhancing their educational scores by exploiting the PowerSchool software system that a group of student hackers abused to change and falsify grades.
Students involved in the hacking scheme appeared to be apart of a larger ring who took money and bribes from students in exchange for increasing their school grades. Authorities close to the case have said the actual center or intrusion or procedure for the hack was not known at the time, but the hackers did gain illegal access into the system from a legitimate set of login credentials.
A majority of schools around the United States use a web application called Powerschool, offering an easy way to access and modify grades for teachers, students and parents all online.
All suspected methods of intrusion stem from hackers abusing a set of legitimate credentials that was believed to be have been obtained by a senior student at Beau Chene high-school after a teacher had abandon their classroom. The credentials were then believed to been passed off to a set of hackers that further abused the power from there.
Another senior speculated that the student may have obtained the Powerschool credentials by helping a substitute teacher login to the system while the full time teacher was away, gaining full access to the system that way as well.
Hackers operating the illegitimate grade changing infrastructure were said to have sometimes taken money for enhancing students grades while others abused it in turn for sexual favors as well. The hacker (s) also used their hacking to reduce the grades of students they did not like. The knowledge or affiliation of students involved is unknown at the time of writing this article.
Principal at Beau Chene high school, Keith James said the institution was tipped off by a concerned parent who had asked teachers to check into PowerSchool for any irregularities. After an audit the school had suspended 45 students who knew their grades had been illegitimately changed, but as of now, school authorities don’t know the scope of students involved and victims of the attack.
Since the grade changing scheme, the district IT department has enhanced their security measures in PowerSchool to help detect intrusions and illegitimate grade changes at an earlier stage.
Edward Brown, St. Landry school superintendent said he is confident that the institution has caught everyone involved, “but there’s no way to know for sure,” he said. “If there are any more, we will levy the appropriate punishment.”
The current scope of the attack is unknown but school law enforcement have said the school is currently under investigation for the grade changing hack.
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