Florida teen arrested on felony charges for hacking into District computer networks using the password his teacher showed him
A 14-year-old middle school student in Holiday, Florida, was arrested this week and charged with “an offense against a computer system and unauthorized access,” which is a felony, the Tampa Bay Times reported this week. The middle school student attends Paul Smith Middle School in Holiday.
The teenaged student allegedly used an administrator password to log into a teacher’s computer and change the background image to a photo of two men kissing for which the school suspended him for three weeks thinking it was a prank.
But later it was changed into a felony charge because he had gained access to the multiple network computers. The Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco stated that he logged into multiple network computers using an “administrative-level account.”
One of the networks that the student hacked into contained 2014 FCAT information, according to a report, however the investigators reported that no FCAT information was ever touched.
The reasons for changing the charge to felony is that he could have seen the questions for the state’s standardized tests, although Green said he didn’t actually tamper with anything other than the teacher’s PC background image, the report says.
Sadly for the kid used the password the teacher showed the class. The password was the teacher’s last name, and the teacher had typed it in in full view of the students. The student told the Times that many other students used these administrators’ passwords (their teachers’ last names) so they can screen-share and video chat with other students. He told the Times that he first tried another computer to use for video chat but logged out when he found that it didn’t have a camera. That’s when he tried the other computer, which he realized was used by a teacher he didn’t like, and realized that he could use his wide-reaching access to wreak some havoc. That havoc was limited to exposing him to a picture of two men kissing.
Sadly, the prank misfired – the teacher who used the computer was out sick the day of the prank, and a substitute teacher saw it instead, according to the report.
Sheriff Nocco seems to be taking this threat seriously. The report says the student “was released on Wednesday from Land O’Lakes Detention Center into the custody of his mother,” which means the kid was brought into a holding cell for the incident, which sounds completely unnecessary. But Nocco apparently wanted to send a message, and won’t hesitate to lock up more teenagers for trying to use Skype in school.
The boy’s mother had a different story to tell, “It’s a common thing, all the kids do it,” The mother told The Times. She feels her son was made a scapegoat.