back to article Student sentenced for F-ucked up grade hack

A university student in Florida on Tuesday was sentenced to 22 months in prison for his role in a bungled scheme to hack into his school’s computer system and make hundreds of grade changes. Christopher Jacquette, 29, of Tallahassee was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release for his part in the plot, which …


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  1. David

    Gawd 'elp us

    "Act of God" ?...................... Blimey, that IS the sound of a desperate woman. Must speak to Richard Dawkins about that. Mine's the one with the mitre hanging above.

  2. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton


    "After Jacquette gave consent to have his cell phone searched, investigators found several passwords belonging to university employees."

    /Paris because even she knows when its consensual.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a damn shame...

    ...that these bumbling idiots were caught... or NOT!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perfect excuse...

    "When police questioned Barrington's sister about changes made to her grades, she said she believed they were an act of God."

    I believe that is a perfect alibi these days... Even Pres Blair said he asked for God's guidance before invading Iraq... If it was the voice of anyone else he was listening to his head he would be locked up... Personally I think it was Napoleon.

  5. hikaricore


    Most of their intentions seem noble. But they made some seriously stupid mistakes...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I see the problem!

    They WERE Florida A&M students. (OK so this could be applied to any Florida university...)

    Lets see - the grade book is in the OTHER pocket.

  7. Murray Pearson


    Now that's what you call higher education: were those tw@tdanglers on crack?

  8. jake Silver badge

    29 years old?

    What a fucking idiot! You'd think the muppet would have learned by that age ... Or even by age 19, if the 29 is a typo(e).

    The old adage "Stupidity SHOULD hurt!" applies, IMO :-)

  9. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Down

    Er, what?

    "Because the changes to grades and residency status would have allowed students to receive lower tuition fees"

    Residency status, fine.

    But...grades affecting tuition? So grades given out *by the institution* directly affect the revenue received *by that institution*?

    Anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Whoops, revenue's down a bit this year - better hand out fewer As!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    They will have new chances

    To enhance their criminal behaviour once they are in gaol; or learn their lesson and not do it again. Seeing how utterly stupid they appear to be; I'm guessing the former rather than the latter. Shame for them.

  11. The Ref
    Paris Hilton

    Please don't call this a hack.

    Please don't call this a hack.

    Yes they used key loggers - but they were not smart enough to use an anonymous email account or to access the records from a public computer. Emailing themselves passwords using traceable accounts is inviting the police to catch them. Changing from an F to an A is also obvious. Moderate changes to only a few accounts might not have been noticed.

    This should not even go under the title of script kiddies.

    Paris: because even she knows about protection

  12. Christopher Ahrens

    Wow, fail

    Just so much...

    users with admin access w/ accounts that weren't even locked / logged out

    Grades on same database / partition as registration records

    Florida A & M

    "Act of God"


    No proxies from a home account

    Non-disposable e-mails

    keeping passwords on a cell phone

    software key loggers, that weren't uninstalled at that

    I can't go on, just so much idiocy, on everyone's part. My head hurts.....

  13. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Down

    Just goes to show....

    ...your typical higher education is just a process to make money for some and to let other people feel good about themselves.

    It sure has little to do with intelligence or advanced knowledge.

  14. Dan

    So many security flaws...

    I can grant that the keyloggers would be enough to get in and change the grades. But a simple audit should have shown all the changed grades, and reversed the changes. detection + 30 minutes, the damage should have been reversed.

    Then they fall for the keyloggers again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Having gotten the passwords, the group... uses them? Wrong course of action. Use a good Russian proxy, and change the grades of someone you don't know. Adjust them up by one letter. That person will get the blame, or the intrusion will remain undetected.

    If the intrusion remains undetected, then the passwords will still stay the same, and you can make some other changes as well.

  15. Andrew Barratt

    3 Stooges, sounds more like Wargames....

    Use of software key loggers shows the desktops can't have been locked down very well.... If they'd have used hardware loggers they might have gotten away with it. PS/2 keyboards for the win!

    Send them to jail, so they can learn some real skilz.

  16. Rick
    Jobs Horns

    Don't prosecute...

    The RIAA or the MPAA might find these characters useful...they might even be appointed to the U.S. DOJ.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    @ The Ref

    'Please don't call this a hack.'

    Please see my comments on the BSA article. Are people like you worried that it'll damage your hacker cred with women or something? I don't think you need to worry, friend.

  18. Joe H.

    @Christopher Ahrens

    There is a fine line between professional and amateur in some cases.

    In this case you can pose family members for memorable photos in front of the cliff edge beyond which can be seen picturesque sandstone ledges jutting up from the floor of the gigantic canyon that denotes the line between the pros and the not so pros here.

  19. TeeCee Gold badge

    Act of God?

    So, have they arrested the bastard yet? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Officer: We're charging you with illicit grade fiddling and computer misuse.

    Perp: I'd like a few other offences taken into consideration.

    Officer: Such as?

    Perp: The Crusades, the Inquistion, the witchhunts, 9/11, the massacre of the innocents........

  20. Edward Miles

    In the words of the great master:

    "Y'know son, a D changes to a B so easily"

    All bow before great Homer's wisdom.

    Yeah, not *entirely* relevant, but funny none the less.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    No surprise

    Florida, the state that swung it for Bush, says it all really.

    Now we know why in the US there is a show called "Americas dumbest criminals"!

    Paris, even she is sharper than this bunch

  22. LaeMi Qian

    @ Adam Williamson

    Well, if a uni/college gives out undeserved high grades, it doesn't take employers long to catch on and then the university's name is mud. Quality applicants drop and you are left with a student base predominantly like those featuring in the article. Sponsorship/research funding/grants/bequeaths drop off to match. Even a hint of such from a story like this can make money move down the road to the next uni.

    And the deserving students who went through just before the uni went down find themselves considerably undervalued at job interviews for the next several years until they can let their academics drop off the bottom of their CVs.

    (Sorry for going on, I spent most of this decade trying to explain to Chinese universities why graduating by quota rather than ability wasn't doing the country, the universities or ultimately the students a favor).

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Please don't call this a hack"

    I agree. No hacking involved. Just a bunch of idiots.

  24. Stef

    Act of God

    An Act of God? That is crazy.

    Will they still have to swear on the Bible in court? Or would that be just as stupid?

  25. Anonymous Coward

    @Hacker-cred AC

    No, it's just really annoying to see something you love doing cheapened by idiots.

    Sort of similar to when you get a self-appointed "Homeopathic Doctor" or a cleaner called a "Sanitation Engineer". These are professional titles that people work for many years to achieve and are then either self-appointed by someone who thinks they're good enough or given to someone to make them feel better about themselves.

    This isn't hacking proper in the same way as a drunk guy who slashes wildly as you with a scalpel isn't a surgeon even though he's using some of a surgeon's toolkit (the scalpel) for the purpose it was designed for (cutting flesh).

    Alternatively it's awesome hacking and they've been royally framed.

  26. Bad Beaver
    Gates Horns

    "an act of God"

    Come on! The correct expression is "THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!". You got caught, at least admit your involvement. Wimpish brats.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Florida, land of dishonesty

    Hmmm - more stupidly bad behaviour from the land of the chad. Three arrogant assholes from Florida told lies about me and my team, which got us all terminated. The three of them were later fired when the truth came out.

    Do they put untruth serum in Florida's water?

  28. Daniel

    @Adam Williamson

    "But...grades affecting tuition? So grades given out *by the institution* directly affect the revenue received *by that institution*?"

    Actually, most universities over here in the States require a student to maintain a certain minimum grade to retain scholarships. In addition, while many scholarships are funded from outside the institution, some are directly funded by the university. So yes, it is entirely and legitimately possible for the grades handed out by an institution to impact the revenue received by the institution.


  29. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    Out of line

    At least he wasn't caught downloading music.

  30. Smallbrainfield

    Ferris Bueller's Day in Court

    Did Mr Rooney spot the grades changing on his monitor?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Two students...

    ...arrive at school, both at 9am, one of them has traveled 5 miles, one has traveled 50 miles, how does that cost the school an extra penny/nickel?

    IMO, having residence status changed isn't "costing" the school money, they're just not making as much money as they previously were, the two are quite different things.

    For the sake of simplicity let's say it costs $1,000 per day to teach a student:

    Student A - Lives across the street from school, let's charge them $1,000 a day

    Student B - Travels 50 miles to school, so let's charge them $1500 a day

    So they make £100,000 from "in-state" and £150,000 from "out of state" students a day. Then the out of state students stop having to pay the extra $500 a day, it shouldn't then "cost" the school any more to carry on teaching everyone. On the other hand, if they embarked on a typically poorly managed, ill-advised IT project without consulting anyone who knows their mouse from their elbow, then that would "cost" them money.

    I don't understand how or why you have to pay an "out-of-state fee" for going to school in another state. Presumably the reason you go there is because it's the best school available, and you're willing to travel the distance to go there. So the school then feels the need to charge you extra? Where does the fee go? Do out of state students get extra tuition or privileges than their "in-state" class mates?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    funny how whenever 'hackers' get caught...

    ...they're not really hackers at all. Just idiots attempting to use computers to do a bit of crime.

    You never really hear anything about some highly specialised computer-crime unit catching out anyone doing anything subtle - a small level of 'insider' trading using stolen info, for example. This is either because: a) they really don't want to divulge their methods; b) they don't target people like that as the overall impact on society is low compared to the effort required to catch them; c) they just don't catch them because it's actually relatively easy to cover your tracks and not make these kind of schoolboy errors.

    Anyone voting for 'C'?

  33. Peyton


    Swearing in on a bible has never been required in the US - that would be unconstitutional; the practice is generally considered archaic and not encouraged in these modern times.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC how it costs more out of state...

    If it is anything like the UK schools/colleges, then the local authorities give a grant on top of any paid fees for each student. If the student is 'visiting' from abroad, then the college gets no grant from the govt. so must recoup the money from the student. Therefore a foreign student pays an awful lot more than a UK resident for his/her Uni education.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    @ hikaricore

    "Most of their intentions seem noble"

    Defrauding the University of money and creating false academic qualifications? that's a pretty strange definition of "noble".

    Sounds like some strange freetard definition; "hey man, an A is the same number of bytes as an F, so nobody's lost anything!".

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: AC@11:32

    I think you will find that some of the cost of tuition to the state school is covered by taxes paid to the state, thus covering the cost of some of the education for the in state students. The out of state students have not been paying taxes to that state thus should not get the benefit of reduced tuition costs.

  37. DavCrav


    "Swearing in on a bible has never been required in the US - that would be unconstitutional; the practice is generally considered archaic and not encouraged in these modern times."

    Unless it's for a president, of course.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @ Two Students...

    The university receives funding from the state of Florida specifically to the benefit of students whose parents paid taxes to Florida so their children would have an opportunity for a higher education experience at a somewhat lower rate. The parents of students across the border in Alabama and Georgia would have performed similar "voluntary tax donations" for universities in their respective states.

    However, pitifully few high achievers are touting the benefits of their University of Alabama degrees as the reason that they advanced so far so quickly in their field. Thus the difference in the "out of state" and resident fees. Although the reality is that the universities in the US today are primarily bloated cash cows for lefty propagandists - but that is another discussion for another day.

    His evil Steveness, cause they probably placed the key loggersMacs (it is a uni after all and Macs are immune from malware, aren't they?)

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @Two Students

    The total cost to educate someone is the same. "In-state" and "Out-of-state" come from the fact that the state government pays the rest of the "in-state" person's costs.

  40. Peyton


    Teddy Roosevelt was not sworn in on a Bible. Not saying 1/44 is significant, merely that it's not required.

  41. Keith Williams

    Out of state fees

    Beyond the tax thing, they probably charge the out-of-state students more than the actual cost, to assist in lowering fees for in-state students. Or to build a new sports facility. Or to pay the coach more.

  42. Jean Stone


    Did these geniuses never think that a school might actually notice when someones grades shot up overnight? Even setting aside their horribly botched means of tampering with their GPA, unis do keep paper records of these things and one would think registrars are smart enough to do a little digging when someone at the bottom of the class rankings suddenly rises to the top. Even if the tampering went undetected due to failure at every level of responsibility solving the matter would take about a minute (plus ten hours scheduling time judging by standard uni efficiency):

    Reg: So, how did Mr. Jacquette do last term? Good student?

    Prof: Oh him, never attended classes, got one question right on the final. I think he was drunk at the time.

    Reg: Thank you.

    Of course, if these students truly were getting a lot of Fs then perhaps they're too dumb to realize that, though it also makes one wonder why they weren't punted for academic underperformance before they had a chance to act out their script kiddie fantasies.

  43. Robert Moore
    Thumb Up

    Was the password "Pencil"

    Looks to me like someone has been watching Wargames.

  44. Kevin Reader
    Paris Hilton

    The greatest irony is at the bottom of the page...

    In Ads by google we get:

    * Top 10 Keyloggers of 2009

    Side by side comparison of the best keylogger programs available!

    * Police Auctions Uk

    * Student Marketing HE/FE

    * Students Excess Baggage

    * Student Credit Cards

    * School Software

    AB Tutor Control. PC Monitoring Software. Free Trial Download

    The extreme irony of the first and last items actually disturbed me. Some of the others are pretty relevant too. So we can rest assured that el Reg is ensuring that the next attempt by some students will be better organised.

  45. vincent himpe

    tsss. amateurs

    everyone knows that the passwords are kept on a note in the dean's secretary's desk. last weeks password was 'pencil'

    for a list of previous passwords go watch 'wargames' again...

  46. Anthony Mark

    If only they'd put this much effort into their studies...

    Perhaps they would have gotten 'A's legitimately?

  47. DavCrav


    "Teddy Roosevelt was not sworn in on a Bible. Not saying 1/44 is significant, merely that it's not required."

    I didn't know that, actually. You learn something new every day.

    And there was a missing Joke Alert icon, which perhaps hid my real intentions...

  48. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    They tried it TWICE?

    This wasn't too bright. What I can't believe is, after the grades were changed back, they tried it AGAIN. That should have made it obviously they were caught at it, at that point doing it again is just going to draw attention.

    <QUOTE>But...grades affecting tuition? So grades given out *by the institution* directly affect the revenue received *by that institution*?</QUOTE>

    Well, certainly if they flunked out the tuition would be 0... ohterwise, I agree, I haven't heard of a school were grades affect tuition. Out-of-state status sure woiuld.

    <QUOTE>I can grant that the keyloggers would be enough to get in and change the grades. But a simple audit should have shown all the changed grades, and reversed the changes. detection + 30 minutes, the damage should have been reversed.</QUOTE>

    They were audited, and the changed grades WERE caught. These doofs tried to change them a *second* time, which was also caught (and, if the school wasn't already looking for them, certainly prompted them to track them down.)

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