back to article US school cheat hack suspect faces 38 years jail

A pair of US teens are looking at an extended spell behind bars over accusations they hacked into school computers to change their grades. Omar Khan, 18, a student at Tesoro High School in Orange County, California, allegedly changed failing grades to As for himself and others using the purloined login credentials of teachers …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    39 years?? :O

    Some rapists and murderers get less!!

  2. David Harper

    More like Dumb and Dumber

    I have no sympathy with Khan. Cheating is deplorable. Using spyware to cheat is despicable.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    look at the names, they'll get max time, becouse they're obviously going down the path of the terroist already.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "Khan" - "Singh"

    Surprised they aren't being threatened with Gitmo.

  5. Gordon Pryra

    With a name like that

    The poor sod is probably looking at an orange jump suit for the rest of his life, most likely via the UK and then some tin-pot 3rd world country where the Americans can torture him to their hearts content.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got to be more careful...

    Misread that as "Tesco High School". Man, those McDonald's diplomas have got me in a panic.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing like a measured response then.

    Why not just fry them and have done with it.

    This is the kind of thing that brings just about everybody involved, just what kind of human would actually want to send a kid to jail for faking grades. What has happened to Americans that they feel that this kind of thing is the right way to behave, or is it just that:

    a) The DA, Head of the School Board and Sheriff are all up for re-election and wnat to show they are tougher on crime that Gengis khan.

    b) The kids have asian names so must be terrorists

    c) They want to scare the hell out of a couple of teenagers so that they plead guilty up front and save the county a bundle of money and no one objects when they get 10 years.

    d) The DA, Sheriff and School Board all hold shares in the local privately run prisons.

    e) The local privately run prison company funds their campaigns.

    f) There's an annual competition in the US Justice system for the heviest penalty for the trivialist crime, though you would have to go a long way to beat life for stealing a piece of Pizza.

    Because it certainly ain't a sense of Justice and fair play, this just warrants a fine and slap on the wrist. Get a sense of proportion guys.

  8. Gavin Pearce
    Black Helicopters

    Blimey - 38 years!

    He faces 38 years for cheating in a school on some grades.

    That's more than someone would get here for murder, or blowing up a million people on the tube.

    The world is crazzzyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Harper

    I guess in the future, if I need to cheat to pass a class, I'll just murder the teacher instead - less jail time AND not as bad morally!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    It had to be done....

  11. min


    at least with 38 years in the clink, the bloke can actually work hard on gaining about 5 degrees..all at our expense too! apart from the minor discomfort of having to pick up the soap at times.

    could be a blessing in disguise really.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Ferris Bueller's Day Off? War Games I think

    Sounds more like the start of war games than Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If he'd had the intelligence he'd have altered his grades slowly say C from D B from C et cetera not given himself A's that's just going to alert people then again if he was that intelligent he wouldn't have needed to cheat.

    Disgusting is all I can say. The term however is a little OTT as said before Murderers and Rapists don't get these kinds of sentance.

  13. Bad Beaver

    @ ahh

    Beat me to it by a few hours. I mean—Orange County. It's surprising they were not shot on the spot.

    Nevertheless, I assume they'll be hired for interesting fields off-contract since they clearly exhibit both talent and devotion combined with a will to win by all means necessary.

  14. Scott

    Idiot Law enforcment

    There is no rhyme or reason for these kids to get the kind of treatment suggested in the article. Asshole prosecuters are just trying to make a name for themselves. Like the statement above; Murderers and rapist get less time if convicted. Hell, OJ got off scott-free because he had money to buy his freedom.

    I have absolutly no repsect for police, judges, or the the US law enforcment system. It all depends on what the accused looks like, their creed, color, money to what type of sentence they will recieve.

  15. Craig Wilkinson

    Tut tut

    They should have shot their teachers and some fellow students as they would have got less jail time.

    WTF is going on with the world. Yes, this could lead to bigger more serious crimes one day, but they havent just run over a small child or pulled the trigger on some poor teacher trying to get them a higher grade.

  16. Chizo Ejindu
    Thumb Down

    Seriously though...

    There are people who commit billion dollar frauds and get a couple of years in a holiday camp. Rapists generally get 3-5 years. Murderers 25 years. But some kid who stupidly tried to change his grades could get 38 years?? There something seriously wrong with that.

  17. D
    Black Helicopters

    38 Years, that'll be two years for hacking and 36 years

    for having a dodgy middle eastern sounding name.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >look at the names

    "Singh" Is a predominately Sikh name, thus he's unlikely to be a maniacal terrorist.

    The most famous of the infamous Danish cartoons had this error as well, the Mo with bomb turban, was clearly a Sikh not a Muzzo.

    Khan sounds dodgy though, off to gitmo for him.

    BTW I am not Sikh, it's just the hayfever...

  19. Ash

    38 years for changing grades?

    Surely the first year at Uni will single him out as a dim-witted idiot and they'll chuck him out anyway, only with $x0,000 of debt to show for it.

    Let him screw up his own life properly.

  20. David Buckley
    Alien it just because its a computer?

    I get the impression that people who change their grades electronically rather than modifying the paper bases cards have the book thrown at them...well shot out of a rail gun at them.

    If they'd just messed around with the paper, then i bet it would have been put down to hijinks and then had their hands slapped.

    all fear the kid who knows how to use a computer for in them lie the downfall of the system

  21. Anonymous Coward

    They're of middle eastern descent

    Off to Guantanamo they go for plotting to subvert the US of A !

  22. Anonymous Coward

    US Prosecutors

    Are they paid per-year-served-in-jail? It seems that, whilst this is quite a serious offence, it didn't involve any violence or theft of property; so why the ridiculous set of charges? Probably not helped by surnames "Singh" and "Khan" (ticket to Gitmo almost).

    Anon, as many will no doubt want the death penalty for these two and any other do-gooders that might want a sentence less than 20 years...

  23. Jach

    A little harsh, but...

    I feel no pity for him. The dummy should have watched more of The Simpsons; don't cheat for an A when you've been getting F's and D's, go for C's and B's. (And a D turns into a B so easily on paper...)

    If he were smarter he wouldn't have gotten caught (one tactic being changing a ton of people's grades, not just his own), but then if he were smarter he probably wouldn't have needed to change his grades in the first place.

    Mine's the one with Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan in the pocket; Khan failed in that movie too.

  24. Adam Foxton

    I wonder whether or not the head did actually shout KHAAAAAANNN

    This sentence is ridiculous. Although did anyone say that it was 38 years? Could someone just have totalled them and assumed they're running in series rather than concurrently?

    I mean that's only *fag packet* 6 months or so per offence they've charged him with. And if they were just hacking at school and didn't hurt the school caretaker who found them or even try to hack in from the outside then I think that'd be a pretty fair sentence.

    3 years is also excessive but not AS excessive so clearly no-one's pissed off about that. Give 'em both 6 months behind bars for it.

    He'd never get into another educational establishment, his employers would know of his little escapade and so he'd be punished for the same sort of length of time but as a far lesser burden on the state.

    Also, what's the repercussions? Are any "convenient" precedents going to be set if he goes away for these crimes?

  25. J-Wick
    Thumb Down


    C'mon, you're giving the average Yank way too much credit here...

    'Singh' = 'middle eastern sounding' = Muslim.

    There don't seem to be that many Sikhs in the US (I least, I don't see many, compared to your regular Indian-American type (e.g. Hindi)), so Americans are unlikely to even know of them, let alone make the distinction...

  26. Martin Eriksson

    UP TO 38 years

    Calm down a little people, the article says "up to 38 years of prison", key words being "up to".

    Kind of like broadband providers - up to 24 Mb/s but I only got 8...


  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *fag packet*

    How will any approximate calculation be done once everyone's given up smoking?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    38 years MAX sentence.

    Keep in mine that is the maximum sentence. It is very uncommon to get the maximum sentence even if you are a repeat offender. If this is a first offense, then they are likely to only receive a small portion of that. If they plead guilty, most likely their sentence will be 5 years - serve 90 days. So they will spend a couple months in a county jail or diversion center (work a day job, but spend your nights in jail) then the remainder of their sentence on probation. Some states you even have the option to plead "first offender", then when your probation is finished the whole thing disappears from your record (employers can't find out about it, but the government still can).

    You can guess how I know all of this.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    @Idiot Law enforcment

    News flash...they don't care whether you respect them or not Scott.

    And for Gordon and the rest of the "I hate the Yanks" crowd:

    Wow, such venom you continually spit our way, and this from our supposed allies ?

    Not too much of a crusty, bitter, old farts, are you ?

  30. Miami Mike

    Sikhs in the USA

    Yes, we have a few here, no problem, we have a few (or more than a few) of just about everyone you can imagine and probably a few you can't.

    Coupla years ago I had to pick up some visiting Japanese business contacts at the airport - we drove through a toll booth, and the toll-taker was a Sikh in full turban, moustache, the works.

    The Japanese guys thought he was from Mars - they'd never seen anything like that in their entire lives (how do you say "Holy Sh*t!" in Japanese?), and actually asked if we could go through the toll booth again so they could take pictures of him.

    I told them, no, its been a long flight, we need to get you to your motel (and going back to take pictures would be exceedingly impolite.)

    Variety is the spice of life. Ask me later about their translator . . . ;-)

  31. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Government education...

    This just sounds like a couple creative minds which are bored.

    They are smart enough to hack the teacher's computer to get a password. They are also smart enough to figure out how to access the school after hours. It simply seems like they are bored in public education and needed something to challenge themselves. Plus somewhere along the line a course in ethics failed to be taught (more the responsibility of the parents than the school).

    IMHO, this is a failure of the institution to challenge these kids and keep them intellectually busy.

  32. Daniel B.

    So was the principal James T. Kirk?

    So 38 years later, when Khan is released, he will steal the Enterprise and destroy his former school with photon torpedoes!


    Seriously though ... 38 years for a simple hack is stupid, no real harm done (other than the crime of stupidity for thinking no one would notice the grade changes) unlike that other dude who erased hospital records.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    who's the dummy?

    No, really. By the time he graduates out of the grey-bar motel, he will have had years of taxpayer paid college education and health care that the sod wouldn't have had on the outside.

  34. Aodhhan

    Too Excessive??

    Do you people even research facts before you start engaging your moronic thoughts?

    1-There are around 70 counts against him. This averages about 6 months each.

    2-The active phrase here is "UP TO X amount of time"; which does not mean he has already been sentenced and must serve it. Even so, he would be eligible for parole in a lot less time. Probably around 8-12 years if he does get the max on all charges.

    3-He didn't cause damage? To the person who stated this, you are the biggest moron of all, and obviously didn't get all the facts on what was done, or realize how much the clean up will cost.

    Like they say, if you cannot do the time; don't do the crime.

    He was well aware of the consequences, and old enough to know the more things he did, the harder he would get hit.

    Some little things don't seem very big, but are. If he changed the emergency contact information in your child's records so they couldn't get ahold of you during an emergency, I bet you would think a lot differently about the severity of "little things".

    This system has been comprimised, and every bit of data now has to be checked and validated to ensure it isn't erroneous. This alone will cost the tax payers quite a bit of money. No damage, eh? Think again.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anonymous Coward

    No, really. By the time he graduates out of the grey-bar motel, he will have had years of taxpayer paid college education and health care that the sod wouldn't have had on the outside.

    Not in America. TB is running rampant in the prison system. Prison healh care is worse that Welfare health care .

  36. Adam Foxton

    @JonB *fag packet*

    I don't smoke, I just carry a now ageing cigarette packet about with me to do rough calculations on...

    Used to have one with a calculator drawn on the back as well- just "punch in" the numbers, a little mental arithmetic and hey presto people think you've got a calculator-fag-packet.

    I guess we'll have to change to *nicorette packet* soon...


    Schools don't check things that often when something's found to be wrong. Teachers get handed their classes' results, skim over things looking for As and Fs in case someone's aced or failed when they didn't really. IT staff get the compromised teacher to change their password and then if they're really dedicated load a known-good backup image onto the machine and virus/spyware check their work files.

    It's not that no-one cares, it's just that they don't have the time. Not much time spent = not that much cost to the taxpayer. Plus it'd probably be done during school / homework-marking time so they'd not end up spending more paid time on school stuff than normal.

    To give you a clue of how clued up they are (or at least were when I left), our administrator password at school was "changeme" for like six years. Staff address books could be accessed straight off a network drive if you typed "w:\" into the "file --> open" dialog in word. Schools'- at least the one I went to- networks are / were not exactly secure. Which is why grades should be kept on paper too.

    Physical security's normally pretty lax too.

  37. Dave


    Would our US readers even know what a fag packet was? Or, for more entertainment, explain what they think it means...

  38. Larry Cumber

    That's just it Period !

    He did his act, but was not vigilant enough than the vigilante. Many have committed terrible acts of this nature before in Banks and other places. 38 years is hard to a man when compared to his actions. If he was used by the FBI to change someone elses history it would have been a success. Interesting how the world looks at our individual actions.

  39. Ascylto

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Now if they'd been in the UK, the Head Teacher would have had both boys in and congratulated them for enterprise and initiative in boosting the League Table ratings for the school.

    The US has a lot to learn!

  40. multipharious


    Up to 38 years!? This is going to go on your permanent record young man. Whatever. Slap on the wrist for being naughty is more appropriate. Couple days of detention would be more like it. Five day in school suspension was reserved for the most heinous crimes in my school system. Expulsion? If you attacked a teacher perhaps. Never happened in my school. Taking these kids to court is absurd. Just the ineffectual US educational system trying to scare kids because they tampered with the "rules."

    Once you get your first job, your holy grade point average means absolutely nothing. Anyone ever asked you to see your University degree or High School transcript? Hell no. In business you either deliver, or you are gone.

    There should be an Uncle Buck icon, since he knew how to talk to the principle.

  41. Daniel

    (@Dave) Fag packet

    An overtaxed way of getting your nicotine fix - loose tobacco is much more cost effective, and you don't go through as many smokes when you have to roll your own.

    That having been said, if you asked your typical Joe sixpack from around here if they wanted to step out and have a fag, you would either get some really strange looks or (in GODS COUNTRY) punched.


  42. Aodhhan


    No, they NOW have to check all the data since there is no telling what these two have changed. It is likely they changed a lot more than just grades. Either way, they cannot take the chance. For instance, if they went in and changed the keys to some tests, it will cause problems in the future. Backups are of little use, since the majority of them will be comprimised as well. Ensuring the data is trustworthy again, will cost quite of bit of money and take time.

    Also, don't tell me what they do and don't do. It's obvious you haven't taken a few things into account, and all you are doing is stating the obvious. It is rare for any system to have users re-check entered data, which is why it is a good practice to schedule audits of data from time to time.

    Keep your clue for yourself. Just because something happens where you are doesn't mean it happens everywhere else. On most systems it doesn't matter hwo often you change the password or how complex it is if you have physical access.

    Did this school do everything it could have to prevent this from happening? No.

    Did they underestimate malicious inside users? Yes.

    Was physical security and user security training poor? Yes.

    Does this provide any excuse for the students who hacked into the system? NO.

    If you let someone into your house, and they steal something when you are not looking, or damage something while they are there... are they not liable because you let them in? Does this mean your security is poor?

    By the way, if physical security is so lax. Then keeping grades on paper are just as vulnerable. A student could break into a room where they are kept and make changes... Here's your sign.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Excessive doesn't even cover it

    What ever happened to resitting the exam, suspension, expulsion, or even more cruel - making them repeat.

    I mean seriously, why does the school feel the need to involve the police and the legal system for something as trivial as trying to change some grades (it's hardly relevant if they used a computer or just accessed paper documents).

    My first year of Comp Sci, I created a Unix password catcher trojan. As you can probably guess the Sys Admins discovered it (it was helpfully named "trojan" - doh!) - Thankfully they had more sense than this school, so my punishment was essentially barred from unix access for the rest of the semester (this was their version of making an example of me). In fact if weren't for the fact that everyone knew I got busted, they probably would have just given me a stern lecture. I learned my lesson and went on to work at one of the largest financial institutions in the world (where given my access levels it would have been ridiculously simple to insert bogus transactions into the clearing house system and be gone before they knew what had happened).

    The point is, that just because they used a computer try to change their grades doesn't mean they are any more of a threat to society than someone who doesn't use a computer, and the school should have just handled it internally (ok maybe involve the cops for the breaking into the school just to give em a bit of a scare).

  44. TomatoQueen

    Uncle Buck Knew How to Talk to the Principal

    If you want a job with the US gov't above the labor/trade level, then yes, you do have to produce a certified (stamped with the original college seal) academic transcript. If you want a job with a security clearance (god help you), then you produce a lot more than just the paperwork. It is really not a good idea to tamper with or falsify academic records. The job market is too competitive and you will be out on your backside when you're found out, with a much harder time finding other employment. And that's when, not if, smartypants.

    This is NOT the fault of the schools. This is the fault of these boys' parents' failure to impart integrity. I'm a parent and I don't expect the schools to do my parenting for me, unlike a lot of people out there. Teachers have enough to do and have every right to expect standards of behavior from students.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Bill Gates did it too, your honour!"

    Gates admits- boasts in fact- to screwing with his school's organisational structure and timetable.

    38 years for him! And down with MS!

  46. tony trolle

    Maybe missing the point

    being America the idea is to make them shit themselfs and plea bargin to a lesser charge without wasting the courts time.

  47. David


    38 years is without a doubt excessive. But I have to believe that if this kid was about to graduate high school and is willing to break into his school, use a virus to steal passwords, and use them for his own personal advancement (in the form of improving his grades), then he was destined for jail anyway. Better that he was caught now than after he had caused a lot more damage at some unsuspecting company.

  48. Steven Swenson

    Challenging Classes?

    He probably needed more challenging classes. I failed almost everything in high school, yet I always did amazingly well on tests in the very classes I failed. When I took my GED tests, I completed each one in 1/2 to 2/3 the time required, becoming the first student to ever earn a GED on that day of the week at that testing center. (I finished the last one just in time. There was only supposed to be time to take two or three of them that day. I did all five.)

    Here I sit now, self taught in XHTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP, and having written a PHP OOP image gallery with dynamic thumbnail generation and server-side caching of the thumbnails, from the ground up, in a simple text editor. (Using the GD library of course.)

    There's something wrong with the schooling system when you fail because you're too smart for their classes and can't focus on your work. A good friend of mine tells me I should have been taking honors classes...

  49. Klaus Von Bulow
    Thumb Down

    Plainly idiotic overreaction.

    This is not a great surprise. I'm sure that the authorities who are in control of this debacle will come to senses and not further a course of bigotry and entrenched racism. Or is the purpose of this to get someone a bit of limelight ? I think so.

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