Students at Ketchikan middle school hack computers

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — Students at a Ketchikan Middle School tricked their teachers to gain administrative access to school-owned laptops, school officials said.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports at least 18 students at Schoenbar Middle School were involved in the scheme.

Students fooled teachers by asking them to enter account information to update their computer’s software, which they regularly do. Teachers were presented with a display that looked “exactly like” it does when prompted for a software update, but instead it was a request for administrative access, according to district technology supervisor Jurgen Johannsen.

Students used the access to remotely control their peers’ desktops. Teachers use remote desktop access to prevent students from fooling around on computers during class.

The ruse was uncovered when some students noticed their peers were fiddling with their classmates’ computers remotely. Johannsen said the students used the “most creative of solutions to hack machines” but eventually were caught because they made the “most rookie of mistakes.”

He called it “a bit of a hijack” and said it is unclear how many teachers were tricked.

Principal Casey Robinson said he was notified of the incident Monday and lauded the students who reported it.

“We’ve got some really good kids here,” he said. “When they know something’s not right, they let an adult know.”

All 300 of the school’s computers that are loaned to students have been seized and will be examined, but students will be allowed to retrieve their work.

Johannsen said he will have three technicians go through the computers, a process that will last until the end of the week.

“Kids are being kids,” Robinson said, adding that he was surprised something like this had not already occurred. “They’re going to try to do what they try to do. This time we found out about it.”

School officials said the servers and sensitive information were not touched, and the district is not concerned that students gained access to things like records or grades.

The school has not discussed what the consequences there may be for students involved.

“When we get to that point, we’ll follow that policy,” Robinson said, pointing to the district’s code for computer use.

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