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Two Graduates Charged with Hacking Waco School District Computer System

Two fresh graduates from a prominent institution face hacking charges that they allegedly performed on the computer system of the Waco school district.

The accusation on Sean Edward Erickson, 17 and Samuel Porter Smith, 18 is that the graduates from A.J. Moore Academy breached the security of a computer system and accessed confidential information like addresses and Social Security numbers.

Officials of WISD (WACO Independent School District) said the district's technology division found the breach on May 11, 2007. According to them, two students used the department's computers to manipulate software that an external vendor had mis-configured for child nutrition services to use it.

Erickson, who had been Information Technology Student of the year at A.J. Moore for the past three years, refuted WISD officials' charges on May 2007 that he gained unlawful access to a server in the district. He reasoned that there were no inbuilt measures to prevent the access. The door was open and the huge plasma screen TV was fixed for anybody. Wacotrib.com reported this on June 5, 2007.

However, police officials argue that even if the system might not have had all security tools in place, there was no permission for Erickson and Smith to lay hands on it.

Erickson said while he did not use the system to download any secret information, he thought school authorities would be grateful to him for revealing the flaws in it. But the hacking was like someone getting into a home even though through an open door but without anybody's permission, described Waco police.

The police blamed the two teens for violating propriety and accessing sensitive information on the district's system. The information included names, addresses, parents' names and Social Security numbers, reported Wacotrib.com on June 5, 2007. Police also captured the students' PCs and storage devices and the technicians of the school district were investigating them for information that the boys may have accessed or downloaded.

WISD officials have strengthened controls on the computer systems for the future. The school suspended Erickson and Smith for three days. The students lost technology privileges and exemption from final exams that they wrote under supervision.

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