Saturday, August 13, 2005

Hackers, not Heros

A group of high school students in Kutztown, PA were charged with felonies after using their school laptops to bypass security and access prohibited material. (CNN: Harmless hackers or teen criminals?). Naturally, their parents are outraged and actually appear proud of their creativity.

Creative or not, they are hackers. Their actions should not be tolerated, and the time to send that message to them is now. James Shrawder, a relative of one of the students states, "As parents, we don't want our kid breaking in to the Defense Department or stealing credit card numbers. But downloading iChat and chatting with their friends? They are not hurting anybody. They're just curious."

Downloading iChat is harmless enough, certainly. Using a password decryption program downloaded off the internet to capture the administrative password they needed to bypass security in the first place is not harmless and must be punished. Let's not forget that the creative ones are the hackers that instigate identity theft, write viruses, and engage in denial of service attacks, often for no better reason than to prove they can.

The Kutztown school district is correct. The behavior of these students cannot be tolerated and must be addressed before it gets too far out of hand.



Alan Fraser said...

My understanding is that the kids were not creative and they were not hackers: the admin password was printed right on the computers! Sounds like someone from Kansas was managing the computer department of the school.

Kannafoot said...

The original password was indeed printed on the back of the computers. Once they realized that taping it there didn't provide much security, the administrators changed the password and didn't publish it. That's when students used a password decryption program they downloaed to hack the new password. In my view, that's where the problems begin.