8th-Grader Faces Criminal Charges After Changing Teacher’s Computer Background

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A middle school student who tried playing a harmless prank on his teacher is facing cybercriminal charges, after authorities claimed the student hacked into the school’s computer network.

Pasco Country Sheriff’s Office has charged eighth-grader, Domanik Green, with an offense against a computer system and unauthorized access, or in two words, a crime. Sheriff Chris Nocco said the boy allegedly logged onto the school’s network March 31, using an admin-level password without prior permission. Green then continued to change a teacher’s computer background to an image of two men kissing.

A computer Green had used also contained encrypted 2014 FCAT questions stored within its harddrive, but the sheriff’s office and Pasco Country School District officials said Green did not access or view with the FCAT files.

“Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done,” Nocco told TampaBayTimes.

Meanwhile, 14-year-old Green, whose currently on a three-day suspension, said students often log into the teacher’s administrative account to screen-share with other classmates and friends. They’d occasionally even use the computers’ cameras to see each other, Green said.

Other students involved had gotten in trouble at the time. Green said the tactic was well known, as the password was so easy to remember, it was the teacher’s last name. Green had discovered this after watching his teacher type out the password in front of him.

In regards to the FCAT files, Green said he had only used the computer for a short time, after finding out it had no camera to chat with friends, Green returned the computer and found another machine. The second machine did not contain any FCAT related material or files that could harness additional charges against Green.

“So I logged out of that computer and logged into a different one,” Green said, “and I logged into a teacher’s computer who I didn’t like and tried putting inappropriate pictures onto his computer to annoy him.”

The teachers whose background Green had changed was out of class that day. Instead, a substitute teacher saw the photo and reported it to Paul R. Smith Middle School officials.

The boy’s mother, Eileen Foster, said she understands her son did something wrong, but does not think the teen needs to be arrested because of it. Continuing on, Foster said it shouldn’t have been so easy for students to gain access into the school’s network in the first place.

The school district is currently in the process of changing the network password, a district spokeswoman said.

The sheriff, who seems to think changing a computer background is a crime, said Green’s possible charges should be a warning to all other students, stating: “If information comes back to us and we get evidence (that other kids have done it), they’re going to face the same consequences,” Nocco told reporters.

14-Year-Old Green was released from Land O’ Lakes Detention Center Wednesday, where he will likely be granted pretrial intervention by a judge, one sheriff detective said.

The charges Green may face for what he actually did are absurd, if anything, the teen should thanked for exposing such a stupid and severe security flaw that slightly inconvenienced one substitute teacher.

Atop this, the school districts network security should be questioned in whole, seeing as a group of students knowingly have the password to the entire network, which is poorly secured with low quality passwords. The district network should be forced to undergo a security audit following the alleged “hack.”

Green has also gained himself an additional 10-day school suspension. School officials have made it unclear if the teen will return to Paul R. Smith Middle School to complete the school year, or if this will result in the teen being expelled.

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Brandon Stosh is the founder and CEO of www.freedomhacker.net. Stosh is a cyber security researcher and professional consultant who strives to provide reliable news on cyber-security based topics.

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