Third-Grader Accused of Infiltrating School's Computers

Police say 9-year-old boy didn't intend to do harm

By Eun Yang
|  Friday, Apr 16, 2010  |  Updated 6:51 AM EDT
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Third-Grader Accused of Infiltrating School's Computers

NBCWashington

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The Fairfax County Schools' computer system has been compromised. The culprit? A 9-year-old boy.

The third-grader from McLean, Va., is accused of gaining access to the online education system used by the schools called Blackboard Learning System. It's used to change teachers and staff passwords, change or delete course content, and change course enrollment. According to the Washington Post, one of the victims was Fairfax School Superintendent Jack Dale.

How did the kid do it?  Well, it doesn't seem like much hacking was involved at all.  According to Blackboard, access was gained by using a Spring Hill Elementary School instructor's password.  There was no immediate word on how the password was obtained.

"We have worked with the client closely on their internal investigation of the issue which confirmed that the incident was not a result of a security vulnerability in the Blackboard product. Apparently someone found out and then used an instructor’s valid password as a way to gain entry to the system. ... As always, Blackboard takes security very seriously and works closely with its clients to encourage the use of best practices and policies around password use."

Kids will be kids, and this kid did what any Web-savvy youngster would -- he changed some people's passwords and course work.

But the boy isn't going to be charged because police and school officials said he didn't intend to do any serious damage.

Blackboard lets teachers and administrators post assignments, track grades and host discussions online. And it lets students log on to do their work from home. The company's Web site says its software is used by more than 5,000 institutions, including universities and government entities.

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