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Students hack into system; upgrade to cost $500,000



Published: Fri, July 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The high school seniors were sentenced to house arrest and community service.

MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) -- A school district says it will cost $500,000 to improve computer security after students hacked into its system to change grades.

The students also got access to teachers' Social Security numbers and other private information when they used a portable device known as a pen drive to copy files onto their home computers.

The Jackson High School students were sentenced to house arrest and community service Wednesday in Massillon Municipal Court.

But school officials say they continue to pay a steep price, including overhauling computer security and dealing with bad publicity for a school ranked as one of the nation's best by Newsweek magazine.

"What these defendants did was no mere child's play," said superintendent Cheryl Haschak.

Haschak said seniors David J. Paola and Adam M. Gross had detailed plans for the hacking so they could improve their grades and the grades of other students.

A third senior, Nathan Johnson, was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

A high cost

The school plans to hire a computer expert to examine the district's network, and put additional safeguards in place. The district expects to pay $400,000 to $500,000 to re-create its breached system, Haschak said.

Because all Stark County schools use the same grading system, the seniors have actually shed "a good light on the problem," Gross said. "Our hope is that they can fix other systems."

Paola, Gross and Johnson would have received honors diplomas last month. School leaders are undecided whether the students will have to repeat their senior year.




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