Two Men Face Hacking Charges to Change Grades

Two men of California may have to go to jail for 20 years on charges of breaking into a PeopleSoft system of California state university in order to increase their grades.

John Escalera, 29, and Gustavo Razo, 28, were accused on October 25, 2007 of using John Escalera's grade changing authority for wrong purposes at the California State University and of illegally reaching the grades database of the university.

The men face charges on 11 counts of illegal offenses including wire fraud, identity theft, conspiracy and unauthorized access to computer. They have to serve a prison term of 20 years and pay fines amounting to $250,000 if they are proved guilty in court.

Although there are charges on the hackers to have committed identity theft, the staff at the university was not sure if the couple had reached students' sensitive information like the Social Security numbers.

According to Stanley A. Boone, Assistant U.S. Attorney and prosecutor of the case, Escalera, an employee and student of Fresno State, invaded a protected computer system of the university so that he could acquire the passwords and names of individuals authorized to change grades. Ksee24 published this in news on November 1, 2007.

After collecting the data, Escalera applied software to it to make out the usernames and passwords, which gave him the list of original usernames and their corresponding passwords. Equipped with that, he infiltrated the computer system of the university and changed the grades for his friend, Razo and himself. Escalera also took money from Razo for changing his grades. It was found that the grade changes were performed a number of times during January-June 2004.

On October 31, 2007, Provost and Vice President for academic affairs, Jeri Echeverria, notified university faculty of the legal accusations via a memorandum. She also said that Fresno State had taken necessary steps to stop any further unauthorized grade meddling in future and that the university sanctioned suspension, expulsion and loss of degree against the erring students.

Not long back, the university had updated its database under the SIMS/R, i.e., Student Information Management System/Relational to PeopleSoft.

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