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Student hacks uni system 90 times to change exam grades – FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has pressed charges against a former University of Iowa wrestler who hacked into the school’s system on many occasions to obtain advanced copies of exams and change grades for himself and fellow peers.

According to the New York Times (via the Associated Press), the FBI said 22-year-old Trevor Graves changed the grades over a 21-month period in a scheme which lasted from March 2015 until December 2016.

Graves reportedly carried out the scheme by installing devices called keyloggers in university classrooms and labs that enabled him to see what his lecturers typed, including their passwords, allowing him to gain access to grading and email systems.

The FBI also said Graves changed grades for at least five other students.

Last Tuesday, the former student was arrested in Denver and was released on bond before making an initial court appearance in Iowa two days later.

According to the report, Graves was charged with “intentionally accessing a computer without authorization to obtain information, and knowingly transmitting a computer program to cause damage.”

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Court documents allege the Colorado-native used the information to access the professors’ accounts to see exam and test questions in advance and to change grades on exams and assignments.

Graves’ alleged activities went unnoticed until an instructor reported to campus IT security officials that his grades had been changed without her authorization.

The discovery led to an off-campus search of his Iowa city apartment where authorities seized keyloggers, cellphones and thumb drives that allegedly contained some copies of intercepted exams.

A series of text messages in the cellphones allegedly Graves and several students talking about the scheme. The former student allegedly sneaked into classrooms to install and retrieve keyloggers, which costs some US$50 in the market.

One of the messages saw Graves asking a classmate to go to a class to see that the instructor had logged into her account and “that we acquired the info,” the report said.

The university told FBI investigators that it had spent US68,000 investigating the breach and improving its IT security.

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