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Student Suspended For Taking Teacher's Challenge 533

CygnusTM writes: "The Seattle Times has a story about a high-school student who has been suspended for cracking a school computer after being challenged to do so by a teacher. The teacher says he wasn't serious. Raw deal." Aaron Lutes apparently got tripped up for what should have perhaps gotten him extra credit. The article notes: "The Lutes family and the district also acknowledge that Lutes' computer-science teacher, Giovanni Colombo, told students they'd get a reward from the software company if they cracked the security system and that Colombo wanted a 10% cut of that reward." Welcome to school, take a seat.
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Student Suspended For Taking Teacher's Challenge

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  • No. That's the way it should work. Fixing bugs and gaining status from improving security is proper. Punishing folk for being able to demonstrate a security problem is improper. Perhaps vile is a better word.

    Someone who punishes a person for alerting them to a security problem should be fired immediately. Possibly also sued for their eyeteeth.

    Doing damage is something else. And broadcasting the information about the problem is in-between (the sticky part).

    If you do damage intentionally you should definitely be punished. If you do damage inadvertently, then you should possibly be punished (depends on what you do, etc.). If you broadcast the information irresponsibly... difficult. Depends. If you broadcast the information because the sysadmin (or his representative) won't hear you, and won't fix the problem ... well, don't expect any plaudits from those folk. If you tell the sysadmin what the problem is and let him fix it, then you should be rewarded (at least with status). But you had better be sure that you tell him before he tracks you down, and before you have reason to know that he is tracking you down.

    If you are responding to a challenge issued by someone that you have reason to believe is a responsible authority, then it should be a straight reward (status counts). If some specific reward is promissed, then this should be considered a contract.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • The problem is that, while universities and colleges have the resources to shop around and look at different security packages, budgets are so much lower for high schools that they really have to make do with the crap that they get from their school boards.

    This, of course, leads to a tighter security-though-obscurity focus. (Plus, realistically, what are the chances of a high school student being hired by a school board for such activity? The school boards are supposed to have people to handle these things. Those people are going to be right pissed that some upstart's taking over their job. Likewise, the amount of additional money that it'd cost in support costs, etc., to switch to a better security model typically eclipses what your average school board can afford. And yes, I realize there are quite a few that can afford them, but they prove to be more the exception than the rule.)
  • A college degree on the other hand is not. Why finish high school when you can go on to college?

    Now I know what you might be thinking, that someone can't go to college without a high school diploma, well that simply isn't true. You probably won't get into Harvard or MIT, but there are scores of well respected universities that will be more than happy to accept a "high school dropout" with high SAT scores and good scores on their GED test. Believe it or not your grades in school are less important to a college or university than your SAT scores. Do well on it and you can go to lots and lots of places with or without a HS diploma.

    If you decided you wanted to go to some place like MIT, and you had the money, then a year or two at a university or even junior college will go a long way if your grades are impeccable and you can get reccomendations from your instructors.

    So any way you look at it high school is a waste of time and energy, unless you're in honors/AP classes and actually maybe learning something. But if you've already left then just move on to college, even if you have to start out at a community college. If you're a hacker/geek type then chances are your test scores will be such that you'll be able to start wherever you want.

    But you are right that he should not think he is going to keep making the same ammount of money he is making now forever. I was thinking the same exact thing and would have said so myself if you had not beaten me to it and done a better job of explaining the reasons why.

    He should save up as much money as he can right now from that big paying job and use it to pay his tuition through school. Then when he's got a degree he can take a trip back to his old high school and put a copy of it on the principal's desk and greet him with a hearty "fuck you!"

    Lee Reynolds
  • If you can get enough students and parents to complain about the things he is doing, he'll be out on his ass in no time. The last thing the school board wants is community involvement and if he is seen as the source of that involvement he will be eliminated ASAP.

    Lee Reynolds
  • The old high school I went to was a private school. They had a policy saying if you managed to break the security on the network you were to report it immediately to a admin. Also the policy was to immediately suspend the person who broke the security and to permanently revoke computer privledges. There were so many security holes I wanted to report to the school, but I knew that if I told them I would be suspended. Schools are not doing themselves any good punishing those that try to help.

    The few of us in school that actually knew how to use the computers were watched closely. I couldn't do anything without a teacher standing over my shoulder. I once got in trouble by opening a telnet window to connect to my home computer. Apparently anything on the screen that looks different to the teacher is immediately dangerous.

    We need to educate our teachers on how to properly teach students, not let them monitor things they don't know. Public school or private, the US education system is seriously flawed.
  • bah.. I think all he's learned is that children have no rights and will never be treated fairly in our society.
  • I'm 23 years old. If someone asked me to see whether I could get through their trivial little network security program I would not think twice about it. If a lecturer at my university asked me to check their network security, I would do it. And if an admin showed up and started screaming and yelling and saying he was gunna call the cops both me and the lecturer would tell him to piss off. But that didn't happen here.. why? Because he's a 17 year old kid and he has no rights and is shown no respect.
  • but in this situation it is highly unlikely that the seminar is filed with kids. If you were to successfully disable the alarm of the bank and then get in trouble for it you could always call forward a dozen other people from the seminar and have them testify that they believed you had the ok of a representative of the bank. What's more, they could stand there and demand that the reward be paid. But in this situation the classroom is full of kids and our society doesnt give kids the same rights as adults. So when the victim here calls forward a dozen of his school mates and says the teacher said it was ok, he and his class mates are ignored or assumed to be lying. Especially if the teacher disagrees with them. This is a simple case of age descrimination.
  • If I don't lock up my gun and someone steals it and uses it to kill someone, I AM AT FAULT. Should be the same with computers.

  • I was in a similar situation a while back. While working on the terminal of our proprietary system at my job I accidentally found a backdoor that gave me access to a shell. I notified the Sysadmin, a good friend of mine, immediately. He told me mess around with the backdoor and see how far I could get with it. He wanted me to test the severity of the exploit before he reported it to the vendor. I ended up getting quite far and giving myself access to manager's functions. I told the sysadmin of my success and he thanked me for my help. I left it at that. It is a military system on the base LAN so I had no desire to use the system for personal gain. It would have been suicide to do so.

    So time went on and one day our Lieutentant was playing around with the system and saw my profile was setup with manager access. He changed it back to it's proper access levels and told me "it's taken care of". Later that day the facility manager returned. She is an older lady of the sort that fears technology, change, and progress. He told her of my actions and she went through the roof. She documented my actions as though I had committed a crime. She contacted my Commander and tried to get me demoted. I was in quite a bit of trouble.

    I was fired and moved to a different facility (This is common practice in the military). I was put on a bad shift with a notoriously gruff supervisor. Life sucked.

    My only revenge is the knowledge that when the time came to write my annual performance review, I ensured that the incident was documented as a positive occurrence. The review notes that my actions increased the overall security of the proprietary system. Due to the nature of the information the system contained, this is quite significant.

    Isn't it sad what closed-minded people can do when they refuse open their eyes to new ideas?
  • i once knew a kid who could lose his completed[!] homework on the bus to school.

    he shows up for math class that day, and since this was not the first time he showed up without the required assignment the teacher told him, "if you are not going to do the work in this class don't bother coming at all..."

    so the next day the kid shows up at the vice principal's office rather than the math class and when asked why he is not in class, he relates what the teacher told him!

    of course he got suspended for 3 days, yet he did the right thing IMO by showing up at school rather than playing hooky.

    don't tell children to do things you really don't want them to do, their sense of irony or sarcasm may not be as finely developed as an adults'...

  • yet another good method for teachers to get students they don't like to leave school, isn't it? Psycho terror, bad grades and now that ...
  • GOD DAMN. If they pulled that shit at my kids school I would be knocking on people's doors bearing gifts and organising picket lines. When I was in school the students aranged the strike because they were going to close down grade 12 (the final year) because they didn't have enough students.. we were in our final year so it didn't even effect us but we knew that it would be bad for the school - kids would have to go to some other school to get their final certificate. We protested for days and recruited the teachers to protest with us (after all, they had no-one to teach). In the end it was called off. You can't let this stuff slide man.. you gotta get in there and change things.
  • not end of story. If the salesman was talking to a kid on the lot and the next person to walk on the lot was his father and the son told the father about what the guy said the guy would say "shut up kid" and the father would probably say "billy, don't tell lies". If the person in the next booth was a kid and he called the cops the cops wouldn't even show up. The point here? We don't give kids any rights or respect in our society -- especially when they are in school.
  • I remember my chemistry teacher used to teach us stuff that was pure speculation but I didn't find out until I started reading Science regularly. I would find something that was a brand new discovery.. ie someone had finally proved it and I'd go to the teacher and he'd say "oh yer.. but I knew it was correct". Apparently teachers do this a lot.
  • I never said it was entrapment. I said it was the same principle as entrapment. The teacher enticed the kids into doing something and then had the kid who actually did it arrested for it. So now you're arguing with my definition of entrapment, whereas earlier you were attacking my logic in concluding that the same principle was involved in this case as in an entrapment case. You're not making much sense to me. I think we're done here.

  • I may be wrong - but Id venture a guess that you dont work for any Fortune 500 companies. You cant get a job here at XZY Auto (big 3 US Autos) without at least an Associates Degree.

    I don't like hearing people saying "You can't...". You fucking can.

    I got kicked outta university and I'm now working for one of the world's largest financial institutions, on hardcore ecommerce projects - online trading systems and the like. I earn a fuck of a lot more money that the guys I used to sit next to in lectures and who sneered at me when I got kicked out. I got here by being good, by being smart and ambitious, and by working pretty fucking hard.

    Being good means you're good at your job - you actually know what the fuck you're talking about.

    Being smart means that you work the System (the whole career/corporate thing is a system, and just like any system, it can be hacked; think of it as social engineering). That means you go for the right jobs, adapt to your surroundings, use tact and diplomacy ("Yes, that would do it, but there is another way of doing this.." instead of "No, you're wrong! What you should do is...") and generally infiltrate the organisation. Then you recommend they adopt open source software. ;-)

    Ambition is what gives you the impetus to do better. Whether thats to gain wider recognition, work your way up the corporate ladder, earn more money, whatever. A lot of people aren't ambitious and that's fine - their choice. I am, though. If I wasn't, I'd never have progressed from being a sysadmin-tech-support-web-designer at a small Columbia Internet-style ISP. Ambition gives you the motivation to get where you want to go.

    Finally, work hard. Being good at your job and politically/socially astute will only get you so far. If you're lazy and/or you don't deliver the goods, then sooner or later, you're gonna get found out. Oh, and another thing - creating job security for yourself by hoarding knowledge and/or creating systems that only you can support/run is fucking lame. It's the equivalent of proprietary software. I document things properly and train people in the technologies I implement, so that if I got run over by a bus tomorrow, the systems that I've already helped set up would continue to run. The reason they don't get rid of me is because I've got the ability to take new technologies, figure 'em out and put 'em into practise. I add a huge amount of value by keeping the company close to the leading edge. And, truth is, I'd rather be consulting on projects and designing new systems than doing support/sysadmin anyway...

    To progress, you must do all of these things. I know people who are fucking good programmers, and who deliver. Period. Their employers don't actually realise how fucked they would be if these guys left, but even though these guys are ambitious, they lack the street-smarts (actually, "corp-smarts" would be a better phrase to use), to lever themselves into a better/higher paid/more enjoyable job. And I've met plenty of people who are good, smart and ambitious, but who don't actually deliver the goods. There are even more who are smart and ambitious, but don't have a fucking clue what they're talking about.

    I'm not saying that people shouldn't get degrees. Getting a degree isn't easy (I should know!) and, in itself, generally requires the qualities I've just described, but not having a degree should be no obstacle. I've not yet come across a company which will only employ graduates that I would actually want to work for.

    So, moral of the story, if anyone says to you "You can't.." say to them "Fuck you. I can!".

    </PEP TALK>


  • "Now, if a school has just paid out thousands of dollars for this program and a student can easily break thru it, don't you think they would want to know this? Why wouldn't they challenge the students to do this so they could probably go back to the company and say "Look, your software sucks, we want our money back"

    This is exactly why they WONT blame the software. Undoutably some slick marketer conned the school (and taxpayers) out of thousands for this so-called "security" program (as if some third party program will allow idiots secure a system better than a competently installed and administered server).

    Why won't they blame the teacher? Why the teacher has a UNION... They will either have to file charges, or defend themselves in some court.

    It's far easier to punish the student. Minors basically have no rights, and schools can punish students pretty much at will.

    Basically the school's administration drones took the easy way out. And the easy way is NEVER the right way. The only harm this kid caused was to expose wasteful spending by a PUBLIC institution.

    I hope this case gets a lot of bad publicity for this school, and these administrator types get theirs.
  • According to the article, the student was taken to a police station and threatened with criminal charges for his actions.
  • Because you don't have ten years of experience and reputation for fixing the problems nobody else could?



  • Okay, for what it's worth, I did not expect my "me too!" post to evoke this much response. But, I would like to respond to some of the criticism leveled.

    First, I am not 17 years old. I'm now 28, and have ten solid years experience working on UNIX systems. I am able to command the salary I do because I have a reputation for fixing problems that no one else could, and fixing them quickly. This is more valuable to my employer (a major network-services-provider) than a BS ever will be. This ability comes from years of careful study of how computers work.

    As for a lack of education: I am currently working on bachelors, in philosophy (although I'm trying to transfer to a school that offers classics) with an eye towards "cashing out" of the computer industry and going into ministry.

    Now, those who say that the purpose of education is not to make money are, in general, correct. The point of education is to learn how to think and to have something to think with (i.e. information), ultimately applying that to the human condition. However, most technical programs are more like vocational training than education. So, when I decline to pursue a CS degree (even though I could get one by a couple of years of yawning with my background) I do so because that degree is worthless to me.

    Frankly, at my current level (very senior in one of the biggest companies around) my education or lack thereof is irrelevant in the face of my experience and the things people have seen me do. After spending years in school being told how "drop outs don't succeed", I take a certain satisfaction in the fact that I have slags of people with BS's and even MS's in computer science coming to me for advice and even assistance.

    Is this pride, and thereby a sin? I can't deny it. I should probably be working on that.


  • You go for any senior IT job here in the UK at a major company, and they want an honours degree from a decent university.

    Worse than that, a lot of them are expecting science degree as a minimum, and some are even starting to demand a Computer Science degree.

    I don't like this, I don't necessarily agree with it, but I have noticed the trend. And yes, I will be pissed if I ever miss out on a job because my degree is in Accounting and not CS.

  • You can have one (and only one) of the following lines on your resume. Pick one:

    - "I screwed my school by driving them nuts"
    - "I started a web programming firm"

    The difference between these two is non-trivial.

    Letting yourself get caught up in the system (i.e. public education) is a great way to waste time. Take a step back and recognize that the opinions of your educators are insignificant and that you should do what will be best for yourself in the long run (e.g. not completing school, barely getting by to finish that high school diploma), not "showing them who's smartest by getting straight A's".
  • Read the article.

    The company knew of no reward.

    If I was the kid I would have done the same thing.
    Why would the teacher want access to something he probably allready had?
  • Wait a minute?! If you're telling me that the teacher should be blamed than you got it wrong. Why you ask?!

    Well, if my boss or anyone else, tells me to jump off the 10th floor window and I took the dive without "looking into it" than it is my own doing and no one but "I" to be held responsible for the consequence.

    However, if I was dumb and was tricked into it, than it's a different story. With this teacher/student story, I don't think the student is dumb -- otherwise s/he wouldn't figured out how to hack the system.

  • by Bun ( 34387 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:33AM (#544581)
    Brutal analogy.

    A closer one would be if this was a lock-smithing class and he was told he would get a reward if he could pick the front door lock to the school, went ahead and did it - after hours when the school door is actually locked - then got busted for letting them know that he did it. A student makes little distinction among the authority figures in his school, so ends up being perceived as more than a little deceptive, and of course, completely unfair.

    The teacher obviously didn't believe any of his students could pull off the crack, and is too spineless to step up for his students when one of them gets into trouble as a direct result of his teaching. The example this teacher is presenting for his students is appalling. What ever happened to integrity?
  • The moral of the story: schools are the most oppresive organizations out there. I mean, hell, you can't even carry a gun or drugs into them! 8^)

    Actually I thought the problem was, people DO carry guns and drugs in and don't get caught, but if you do something antisocial like wear black or question authority, you're in eleven kinds of trouble.
  • maybe he is due the money from the school system.


    Are you nuts? The school system does NOT owe the kid money any more than the mysterious "security company" does. So sad.

  • Indeed common sense should apply, but to the teacher, not the student. These are kids we are talking about, and the people that are supposed to be their role models. I'm not suggesting that all highschool kids are mindless sheep, but I am suggesting that teachers have a huge responsibility to kids, to lead them, teach them, and mentor them, quite apart from giving them academic direction. As a parent, I'm also not suggesting that parents assume the role of parents - or usurp it, I should say - as our government, and many parents, seem to want. I am, however, saying that this sort of casual attitude towards kids is not something we should blame on the kids. Yeah, the kid did something stupid, and he should be disciplined for it. But the teacher who encouraged the student to break the law should not be simply forgiven with such a lame excuse as "well I didn't really mean it." Kids are impressionable, and a teacher's entire career is about creating the right impressions on those kids. This sort of thing is inexcusable.
  • I disagree.

    If your boss asked you to do something that you know is wrong, like jumping off the building, that is one thing. If he asked you to do something that you *thought* was wrong that is different.

    This is more like the boss asking you to fudge a little on the time sheets or something along those lines. Something that you don't think is wrong, and if he gave you permision, it is his neck...

  • You misspelled "possessive".
    (Incorrect Grammar During Dictionary Flame, -3)
  • Going to a 31337 h4x0r website and downloading a few scripts and tools doesn't make a student smart. I went thru a stage where I thought I was the man when I could do this stuff. Now I realize I knew nothing about what I was doing. Typing a report in Word was about as difficult as my 31337 hacking. Now, when I am a fairly competent admin on a large number of servers, I realize that while I know more than most, I still know jack.
  • Umm... you could work at McDonald's and make more than a high school teacher makes.

  • That was about the time I realized how much I hated the school system. I dropped out of high-school about a year later (and I'm making more money now as a 17 year old Sysadmin than any of my teachers ever have or will).

    hehe. Me too. 6 figure income without a high school diploma -- gotta love it. This really just underlines the utter unimportance of what education has become.

    Congrats, at the age of 45 you will be doing the exact same thing and making the same salary. If that's what you want, more power to ya.


  • Well, if my boss or anyone else, tells me to jump off the 10th floor window and I took the dive without "looking into it" than it is my own doing and no one but "I" to be held responsible for the consequence.

    Taking a flying leap off the 10th floor has no discernable benefit besides being a Darwin Awards footnote. The teacher, on the other hand, is acknowledged to have said the software company was offering a reward. Not only that, but Lutes wasn't the only student to take him seriously, according to the superintendent. Completely different situation here; looks like the teacher didn't realize how much power his words carry among his students, and one of them got burned as a result. I'm rather disappointed the teacher (as far as I know) hasn't come out and stood up, publicly, for his student.
  • Is education all about gaining income?

    What if you were poor when you were a child...and never had access to a computer until coming to school. So do you think you would be a young sysadmin then?

    Education may be unimportant to the extreme few who are lucky enough to be smart, talented, motivated and provided with advantages from birth (smart parents who provide for their kids, access to computers, books, musical instruments, etc.).

    For the other 6 billion, education is and will always be utterly essential.
  • by vees ( 10844 ) <> on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:04AM (#544609) Homepage Journal

    Ten bucks says we've just seen the subject of JonKatz's next book

    . . . and perhaps even a majority of the content between the covers.


  • A year or so ago, I used to visit this message board that allowed user ids to have underscores. There was a big discussion one time about metal detectors.

    One person said they wouldn't work that well, so the another guy (his user id was 'evil_genius') dared him to try to get a gun through a metal detector.

    Of course, the guy got the gun through a metal detector, and got arrested. Since 'evil_genius' was stupid enough to suggest this, I feel like all people with underscores in their names are also this stupid.

    The above was total bs, just like the original post.

  • The order goes:

    Engr --> CSc --> Poli Sci --> Physc


    I have an engineering degree with a Poli Sci minor, and I did grad work in Comp. Sci...

    I'm not ever sure where on that chart I am...
  • He also was hauled off to the Elma police station and held briefly for investigation of unauthorized use of a computer to access government information.

    Wait? Wasn't the charge based on using a computer to acccess "government information"? Which would mean, you know, accessing a file? Something ain't matching up here kids, and it doesn't look like Aaron's the bad guy here...

    The Lutes family and the district also acknowledge that Lutes' computer-science teacher, Giovanni Colombo, told students they'd get a reward from the software company if they cracked the security system and that Colombo wanted a 10 percent cut of that reward.

    So it's agreed; the teacher went out and said the software company was offering a reward for cracking the software. The teacher lied to his students for yuks. Great teacher.

    "But the teacher was only joking!"

    About what part? The phony "reward" or the "10% cut"? I joke about getting a cut of others' work all the time.

    Elma School Supt. Bill Myhr, duly noting that the issue was confidential, did say that while some students took the challenge seriously, it wasn't intended that way.

    So Aaron wasn't the only kid who thought the teacher was serious? So one can't argue that Aaron claiming his teacher was serious is just an excuse; he wasn't the only one confused by the teacher's statements.

    So far, it looks like Aaron's only crime was being too good with computers for the adults' liking.

    He did acknowledge that Aaron Lutes was disciplined last year for using a school computer to call up inappropriate Web sites.

    Probably 2600,, Peacefire and the like. Nice use of ambiguous terminology to besmirch Aaron's character. In large legal cases, this is called "leaking selected information to the media," and is considered a rather sleazy P.R. tactic.

    Really, it looks like Aaron's being persecuted for making the teacher, the school, and the district look like fools for using such an easily-circumvented "security system." The kid does what the teacher is known to have said to the students, expects the reward the teacher claimed was being offered, and instead gets punished for being too smart. The ol' bait-and-switch; wasn't this used on Winston in 1984? Root out the undesirables by offering exactly what they want, then turn and stab them in the back?

    I think Aaron Lutes has learned more from this experience than any high school could teach in four years.

  • by fliplap ( 113705 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:07AM (#544621) Homepage Journal
    This guy got in trouble for something stupid. At least you have a teacher that will say something like this. Ours school seems to put down computers as much as it can. This year we got a new principal. This guy brings in teachers for token jobs, like history teachers, oh it just so happens the guy is a great basketball coach. Our principal apparently thinks very very little about any club except for the sports ones. Niether the computer club, nor the dramam club got any funding this year. Over the summer the new guy decided the school need some "cleaning". His idea of cleaning was throwing away over $20,000 worth of computer equiptment, the stuff we had been collecting for 3 years, that groups before me had been collecting since the school opened 10 years ago. He threw away _everything_, including an SGI Indy we had just gotten last year. He also cleaned out the drama department, which i'm not all that involved in, but he threw away all of thier props. The dramam department actually made money for the school, we used to have 6 plays a year, we're going to have 2 this year due to lack of funds and props. The drama club tried to raise money by selling candy, he put a stop to that saying it violated school policy. As if all this wasn't bad enough, we got ANOTHER gym, bringing us to a total of 3 gyms, basketball courts indoors and out. Ok, i'm done ranting
  • I know a guy that did this with calculus...
  • That's what you get when you work for a contract on a project, and don't have paperwork to back it up! Next time get it in writing. Especially for security work.

    And he's hardly the first youngster to get royally screwed this way by his teacher! It's only rare because it happened in High School and not College.

  • Myhr said there are "other aspects" to the story, but the school district has chosen "not to bring them out at this time."

    Ok... so what has not been said yet? The article comments that the parents have been told that all criminal charges will be dropped - so just what are these other aspects? I think until that not-so-subtle issue is cleared, I can't say anything about the student's actions. I will say, however, that the teacher definitely sounds like a moron - the article made no attempt to hide that.

    so there you have our take - take it or ignore it

  • by grappler ( 14976 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:50AM (#544640) Homepage
    My eigth grade year in middle school, I was in a computer class where we did stuff with Hypercard. I did the normal assignments and used the rest of the time to program stuff that was more interesting. Because I had figured out some simple ways to bypass the security, the computer lab teacher was deathly afraid of me.

    Some kind of rumor got started that I was working on a disk that could be inserted into any of the school computers and would then bring the entire district network down. The first I heard of it was when I was summoned to talk to the principal (and all the administrators who had also gathered in the office specifically to discipline me). My computer priveleges were revoked for a month because they didn't want to "take chances".

  • If it was absolutely impossible to catch thieves, and they could break into your house from the other side of the world, and then break into other people's houses once they had got into yours... there probably would be penalties for not keeping your front door locked.

    No. No, there would not be. This is neither logical nor feasible What you're saying is tantamount to suggesting that a crime is the fault of the victim. If we adopt this stance in relation to one type of crime, then it could be extended over time to every sort of crime. The foundation of justice systems, since the beginning of recorded law, has been laying the fault for the crime with the criminal. We can't turn around now and start saying "it's your fault i hacked/cracked/whatever-ed your box- you didn't have tight enough security." That is ludicrous. It is the fault of the criminal who gains illegal and unauthorized access to a resource, not the person who fails to control sufficiently that resource.

    Following in your logic, we would soon reach the point of "it's your fault i shot you... i was just firing my gun around at random, and you stepped in front of my bullets. and you weren't wearing bulletproof armor. i'm not to blame." I can't stress this enough... crime is, and always will be, solely the fault of the criminal parties.

    What you're saying is essentially that computer crime should not be a crime if the box is not secure enough. Essentially, you seem to think that if the crime is too easy, it shouldn't be a crime. That's absurd. Think about what you are saying. Read some law. Apply the laws of logic. Then rethink your opinion. Just because there is a new paradigm doesn't mean we have to change the basic laws of justice and morality. Humans are still the same... the basic codes of justic that human society has been following for millenia will be too.

  • by Squid ( 3420 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:35AM (#544645) Homepage
    Because I had figured out some simple ways to bypass the security, the computer lab teacher was deathly afraid of me.

    They should have been deathly afraid of their wimpy security instead.
  • He stood at the front door of his house and said...

    Actually, unless I misread the article, he was breaking into a system owned by the school, and one that the teacher had no direct authority over.

    I think that a closer analogy would be:

    He stood at the front door of the office he worked at and said:

    You can't break into my office because they installed a new lock which can NOT be opened without the key

    And the cops showed up, and his boss, asking why an employee was encouraging non-employees to break into an office.

  • This story really brings back some memories of my first couple years of high school. When we weren't being challenged in our programming classes we really had nothing else to do but to try to bypass the system so we could play games.

    The security software they had installed on the computer systems was incredibly easy to bypass. My advice to high school network administrators where any of the machines are macs (these were the machines in the programming lab so they were the once we put the most effort into, the PCs were even easier, it took 5 clicks from the standard student user interface to be in Windows Explorer and have complete control) is as follows:

    1. Change the default key combination to disable extensions. Most security software for macs is extension/control panel based and will have an option to do this in its settings. If it automatically changes it to something else, change that. The way we first got around the software was to download a trial version at home, check to see what the default key combo was, and try that. It worked.
    2. If you have a seperate login for another system in the school, don't use your login for that as your password for the security software, and vice versa. We got around it that way for a while.
    3. Software is always buggy. Test anything a student might possibly do yourself. We found that with the software my school had you could open the Control Panel for it, click cancel at the login prompt, and you would have access to the system folder. From there all you had to do is drag the control panel and extensions to a disabled folder and reboot.

    Netware is so easy to get around on PCs its not even worth bothering.

    The point of this all is that there is always going to be a group of kids on any high school network who are trying to do this stuff. They aren't trying to do it to get access to files they shouldn't have access to. If we wanted to we could have done that, but we didn't. We just wanted to beat the system to beat the system. Eventually we grew out of it and ended up helping the network administrator keep things clean.

    At one time I was suspended for 5 days for related incidents, and it really didn't stop me from doing anything. It's not the answer. Let the kids beat the system, make it better. Let it evolve.

    ________________________________________________ _______
  • After a few months of intensive class, I had students sniffing my POP mail and cracking my SMB password

    Dang, why do other teachers get all the bright ones? I spent a year teaching computers at a middle school and when I arrived none of them could write a web page or "Hello World". (A few of them could by the end of the year). It was kind of disappointing; I was hoping for an apprentice jedi or two.

  • Heh, maybe if you'd finished school you wouldn't be an ill-tempered badger now.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • It's just like the South Park movie -- where the parents protested the vulgarity of a movie about parents protesting the vulgarity of a movie -- except I don't think Parker & Stone intended it.

    One thing is for sure, though. Aaron Lutes just learned a lot more from his Computer class than he bargained for, about how people who have skills and knowledge are feared and persecuted by those who don't.

    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." --Albert Einstein
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:52AM (#544655) Homepage Journal
    The story says the kid was in trouble last year for bringing up innapropriate web sites. I'm trying to paint a MO here, just a theory..

    A few years back Mr Columbo recomends site blocking software A. Kid breaks through software. Mr Columbo looks like an ass because some 14 year old kid comprimised his recomended security. Rather than be a professional about it and say "gee ok maybe I should ask this kid what we should use" He probably spent his time thinkin of ways to get back at him.

    Over the course of the next year, Mr Columbo does his best to alienate this kid from the rest of the population. Prolly embarasses him in front of the class, continually tries to opress his free though.

    Eventually the kid gets to a state where no matter what he tries, he knows Mr Columbo (god i love saying that) does not like him, he wants to do good in school so he's willing to do whatever it takes to get back in his good graces.

    Mr Columbo makes a joke, telling the students to crack the file security system. Kid is so desperate to get on his good side he takes it literally, so he begins his work.

    After comprimising system, kid goes back to Mr Columbo hoping he will acknowledge his work. Mr Columbo acknowledges it, then turns around and reports to the school "hey this kid is a 3v1l h4ck3r" to get the kid who made him look bad a year ago out of his hair.

    The whole thing smells like entrapment if you ask me. Just like the corporate world except if a job is this bad, at least you can quit.

    I'm willing to donate $100 bucks to this kids legal defense fund. It's not much, but its all I can offer right now. Let me know where to send the check, maybe the rest of us /..'rs should do the same. I had teachers fuck with me because I was too smart in school. It's nothing but peasant mentality on the part of the school district. Then again, I've been to washington, back in the 80's when I listened to the cure and dressed funny, I remember kids from my cousins HS in their farmer overalls asking me, "What are you some kind of faggot?" I guess things haven't changed much.

  • I find the best way to deal with school is to completely ignore your surroundings, including your teachers, and instead teach yourself as much as you possibly can about computers. If you have the intelligence necessary to be a hacker, you'll pick up tidbits in class, do well on exams and tests, and pull average marks. As an added bonus, you won't get into these situations! Of course, I'm assuming that most hackers are like me (i.e. they prefer to teach themselves rather than be taught).

    --Skatche; the name with no meaning whatsoever
    "If you're going through hell, keep going."
    Winston Churchill
  • Again, I agree. I'm with my students for 10 months, 30 hrs a week. Some groups are true gems (like the sniffers) and some are downright slooooooow. And it's very frustrating to have to explain symbolic links for three days.

    Oh well, you win some, you lose some, but I feel for you. If you're a bright dude, and you get stuck in a slow group, you just feel like you've hung yourself.

  • Hogwash. I do not consider school to be part of my education -- Mark Twain.

    I think he said something more in line with "I never let my schooling interfere with my education."

    Anyway, school is a pretty important part of education. I was an outcast myself in school, and it taught me to appreciate the things that were really important. That is, not tailoring myself to make others happy, but to conduct myself in a way that made me happy (I was a dirty little punk rocker in HS =).

  • by SethD ( 42522 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:43AM (#544669) Homepage
    That's quite a broad generalization there. I would have to disagree.

    1. Some people teach because they have to (that's all they know, or they can't get a job better than that).
    2. Some people teach because they love to.

    Obviously, you're going to run into some teachers in the first category who hate their job, hate the students, and might even hate life too. If you combine that with frustrated students, you're only asking for trouble. Unfortunately there are all to many teachers who fall into this category, and they are probably responsible for where the public school system is today.

    The teachers in the second category are really the ones that CAN make school how it should be: EDUCATIONAL. Still though, if you have a teacher in the second category and a student who makes that teacher's job a hassle to him/her, you're still asking for trouble. This should be solved with the teacher realizing that they're just kids, and you've got to brush most annoyances off.

    So there you have it. Often times, yes, the teachers are the problem, but not all the time. You've got to remember that an adult interacting with a group of teens going through puberty (or kids at any age) has got to be incredibly hard no matter what you're doing...

    So, give them some credit :)
  • The law you're looking for is "contributing to the delinquency of a minor". The teacher induced a minor to break a law by claiming there was a reward for taking the action. That's a serious offense, especially for a teacher.
  • I seem to recall that teachers are responsible for the actions of students they are in charge of ... same with ship captians and military officers? ...

    The real problem here is ignorance ... LEA's are ignorant, teachers, administrators ... They are afraid -- when people challenge their beliefs, it brings their plastic fantastic world to a halt, they're insecure and scared, in order to put their world back into perspetive, they have to criminilize the messenger instead of the institutions that are lying to them ...

    That all said, I am a little suspiscious about how he could break in to whatever it was he was supposd to have broken into ... the article has no details at all about the software, the computer, the attack etc ... I doubt with the level of sophistication the school seems to demonstrate, they could tell a misconfiuration from a compromise.

  • What if you were poor when you were a child...and never had access to a computer until coming to school. So do you think you would be a young sysadmin then?

    That's why it's a million times more important for teachers to ENCOURAGE students to learn about computers, rather than punish them for it. Those school lab computers may well be the only computers some of those kids get to touch - and the philosophy is exactly like, stay in the lines, use only these eight crayons, and if I catch you drawing on the back of the paper, you go home for 3 days.

    This is ridiculous. Usually, a generation tends to want its kids to have it better than they did. So why are we stuck dealing with a couple of generations that are SCARED TO DEATH whenever we demonstrate that we know more than they do - and thus have a chance to have it better than they did? When did schools decide it was their job to keep kids dumb instead of make them smart?
  • It's irrelevant. The teacher claimed the security company would pay. The teacher had no legal authority to enter into a contract on the company's behalf, verbal or otherwise. The teacher may have provided false information, but there is nothing the teacher said which would incur any monetary liability on his part.

  • It was predictable that at least one of the students would take up the challenge. In fact, a good teacher who knows his students moderately well ought to be able to guess which ones might. But more importantly, what does this retribution teach all of the students there? He accepted a challenge that was openly given. When he succeeded, he annouced his success. And he was punished. Will the next student to do this quietly prowl around the system and say nothing? And is there anyone in most schools with the knowledge to discover that the system has been compromised?
  • You can never garauntee that a 15 year old is mature enough to pock up the nuances of adult humor, or sarcasm

    Some 15yolds are surprisingly good at picking up on this sort of thing.

    My opinion: the teacher was making it up on the spot, on the assumption that there was NO WAY to defeat the security - or that no one would take up the offer.

    Even so, this is a dangerous spot for a teacher to stand. It's the equivalent of: There's a tennis racket stuck in the rafters of the gym or some other exceptionally cavernous room, the teacher knows there's absolutely no way anyone can get up there and get it. A cocky student brags that he can in fact go get it. So the teacher - with poker face - dares him to do so. And that night, the student attempts this, without anyone's knowledge, and either a) succeeds, or b) fails and is injured, take your pick, the point is made either way. Can the teacher get out of hot water (for encouraging this dangerous stunt) instantly by saying "I was just kidding"?

    School's just like the military. Drill sergeants and teachers alike can bust your ass for stuff THEY did, just because they don't feel like admitting they're not perfect.
  • If the teacher asked the students to commit a crime, could it not be conspiracy?

    Maybe not conspiracy, but certainly contributing to delinquency of a minor.
  • The school system does NOT owe the kid money any more than the mysterious "security company" does.

    Interesting word: owe. The teacher, and by extension, the school system may be liable for any damage done by the student since the teacher is in a position of authority over the student. If the teacher told the students that a reward would be paid, he might be held accountable for such a claim. If the reward was substantial and this issue made it to court, it could be argued that the student earned the reward and his teacher (or the school system) must pay.

  • Congrats, at the age of 45 you will be doing the exact same thing and making the same salary. If that's what you want, more power to ya.

    How is that different from any other career that DOES require formal "I played their game for 16 years" completion certificates?
  • by TGK ( 262438 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:18AM (#544697) Homepage Journal
    I think there is more to this then we're allowing. Many of us have raised Cain about the fact that we "leave our rights at the door" when we (as students) enter a public school. This is because the school takes on the role of the guardian from the moment the student walks in the door to the moment the student gets home. While certain legal parentheticals exist in this, thereby creating minor exceptions to this rule (corporal punishment for example) the vast majority of the schools authority derives from this basic assumption

    The teacher is an employee of the school and the school system. His role is also that of a guardian. While there are examples of teachers smoking up with their students and numerous other breaches of protocol within nations schools, these are pretty universaly reguarded as a "Bad Thing"(tm).

    All in all, the teacher does assume responcibility for the control he has over his students and for the instructions he gives to his students. High School students are (for the most part) under the age of 18. Consequently we do not expect them to have as sophisticated a sence of right and wrong as we expect from adults. Hence we try them as minors, not adults, in a court of law. The same applies here, the teacher does, to a certain degree, set down the moral standards. This is doubly so in a moral question as complicated as computer security (we all agree that murder is, no pun intended, pretty cut and dry?).

    Lastly, we must take into account the legalities of the entire question. Did the student do any damage? No. Did the student access any files he was not supposed to read or in any way breach confidentiality? No. Is legal action being pressed against the student? Not as far as we know. All that's happened is the kid is suspended. In short, the school is enforcing its rules and regulations on a student. However, the student was told, by a representitive of the school, that his actions were within the scope of his course and were not condemned by the school.

    How is this different than a store owner saying "Oh, you can have that, its free" and then calling the cops as soon as you walk out the door with it, accusing you of shoplifting?

    Bottom line, the teacher screwed up. His actions were totaly unprofessional and demonstrate a real lack of forthought. He should be fired immediately. The student's suspension should be revoked without further delay, and the school should issue a formal appology, both to the student and the student body as a whole.

    When the system values itself above the needs and rights of those it serves it is corrupt and earns the distrust and contempt of its masters.

    Yea my spelling is wretched. Deal with it.

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:46AM (#544698) Homepage
    'sounds to me like you may still have some learning to do.

    Yes, it's great to be smug about how much money you're making, but did you ever stop to consider that you're really not worth that? I mean, "to society". Your inflated wage is a product of market dynamics, skilled computer workers are in short supply, so basically, if a person can turn on a computer, they can have a job. The supply of people who are skilled such as you (and I'm not disputing your skill/talent/intelligence - whatever), is much smaller than the demand.

    This is the same exact reason why the RIAA can charge 20 fucking bucks for a CD that costs 50 cents to manufacture. (only they artificially constrain the supply). Perhaps the supply of skilled workers is somewhat artificially constrained (although I'm a vocal opponent of increasing H1-B visas). But in that analogy, that makes you no better as a net admin than n*sync is as musicians.

    If the market changes, without a HS diploma, you are well and truly fucked. Supply does seem to be guaranteed to be short, even with the corporate lapdog congress increasing H1-B caps - but you don't know for a fact that *demand* is going to stay high.
    There is a buttload of EXPERIENCED sysadmins out there, with decades of Unix experience, engineering degrees, etc. Right now, you're taking advantage of a system that permits a company to exist on a rediculously inflated market cap from a starry-eyed stock market. With lots of market cap, they can get lots of credit to buy fancy web servers, and hire high school dropouts for six figures. But as the economy slows, (debatable) and their market cap drops (that's indisputable, have you checked NASDAQ lately?), it's going to be harder for banks to justify credit to these companies, and as they default when they have no revenue to show for it, their payroll will be scrutinized.

    In other words, to quote Vader "don't be too proud of this technological marvel you've created - the power to destroy a planet pales in comparison to the Force" (that is, market Force).

    You are wise to "grab your share" before the market drops out - but make sure you arrange things so that you can KEEP it. And stop spending your nights at raves, because you just may find that someday, you're looking for the same job as a college graduate. Finish school and get that degree.

    What has education become? A pile of shit. I do not dispute that. Don't you know that it has always been that? But at the top of that pile of shit is a piece of paper - which comes in handy when you need to wipe your ass.
  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @11:33AM (#544720) Journal
    I dropped out of high-school about a year later (and I'm making more money now as a 17 year old Sysadmin than any of my teachers ever have or will.

    hehe. Me too. 6 figure income without a high school diploma -- gotta love it. This really just underlines the utter unimportance of what education has become.

    I may be wrong - but Id venture a guess that you dont work for any Fortune 500 companies. You cant get a job here at XZY Auto (big 3 US Autos) without at least an Associates Degree. Which I have - and it was like pulling teeth to have the HR monkeys approve the dept. head's choice.
    Im not discounting that the two of you may be talented (as am I IMHO) - but having an education can only help. Entering the workforce at 17 might seem like a good idea when your 17 but I wish Id have stayed and finished my second degree instead of returning to school at 25.

    Times are good right now - and trust me, when things get tight, and the economy is at a reasonable level, finding a job is going to get very tough when you dont have a high-school diploma. Not impossible, but tough.. excepting your 0.001% 31337 troops of super keyboard ninjas - If either of you are that good you have nothing to worry about. If that is not the case (as laws of averages would probably say) you might realize later that education is not utterly 'unimportant'. Im not suggesting that it is an absolute must - and nothing else is important; but it does have value and says alot about the type of person you are and not just about the knowledge and skills you may/may not possess.

  • by Squid ( 3420 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @11:33AM (#544724) Homepage
    It got him fucked, not the same thing.
  • by Moorlock ( 128824 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:22AM (#544728) Homepage
    ...first day of computer class in 10th grade, sitting down at the green, glowing terminal, hooked up to the mainframe in the closet, given a password and encouraged to keep it secret. Then:
    10 J=0

    20 PRINT( CHR$( PEEK(J) ) )
    30 J=J+1
    40 GOTO 20
    And there, after about fifteen seconds of barfing and beeping, every username and password in plaintext. Ah, cracking was much simpler then...
  • by toofast ( 20646 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:22AM (#544731)
    I am a comp.sci teacher, and you just cannot cut today's students short. After a few months of intensive class, I had students sniffing my POP mail and cracking my SMB password with l0pht. Maybe not the most challenging tasks, but it just goes to prove that us teachers should "put our money where our mouth is".

    As a teacher, if I dare my students, I should be able to live up to the consequences.

  • by cslide ( 126296 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:14AM (#544738) Homepage
    Well, this now proves that most teachers do not know the full potential of their students, if this was a decent comp. teacher he would of noticed the tell tale signs of a hacker, you know, the backwards cap, baggy clothes, copy of 2600, skating around on rollerblades with a microcassete redbox, always talking about his date with acid burn.
  • by senorlobo ( 140612 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:15AM (#544746)
    Obviously, this is another example of a teacher feeling dumb when proven wrong. Even if the teacher was joking this implanted the idea in the students heads. I think if the student is to be reprimanded the teacher should be also. The student should get an automatic A for the semester and start teaching the course himself.
  • by KjetilK ( 186133 ) <> on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:23AM (#544748) Homepage Journal
    Teachers are getting some flames here, but cool teachers exist, you know!

    There were two computer science teachers on my school, and the other teacher was responsible for installing anti-virus software. But he didn't do his work very well, so my teacher asked me and a friend if we could write something to get him moving. This was in the DOS days, I didn't come to learn UNIX before I went to university.

    We wrote a small program that would increase the time between each time a keystroke would be registered. After a thousand keystrokes, the delay would be 50 ms, or something, and then go linearly with number of actual keystrokes. It was really fun watching people working with those computers.... :-)

    Well, the next day, the fun was over. New virus-scanners were installed, and we removed the program. The other teacher never understood what had happened, ours thanked us.

    Another time, our teacher managed to delete C:\ ("are you sure (Y/N)?" "Bloody hell, yes, of course, I'm sure", "whooooops"), and he was very happy tons of "unauthorized" software were installed on the computers to bring it back, because he didn't have any undelete utility himself.

  • by Xerithane ( 13482 ) <xerithane@n e r d f a r m . o rg> on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:00AM (#544750) Homepage Journal
    I did something similar, after advancing 2 grades I dropped out because running my own web programming firm wasn't considered a "real job" from our work experience teacher and I would have to be held back from graduating over .5 credits.

    Unfortunately, most high school teachers and staff do not understand when they have bright kids who know what they want to do in life and do it. Often times they tend to punish them for it.

    However gloating about your success in your career doesn't mean anything above them. And if you are talking about college teachers I know one who would put you to shame (He's in a special niche, played his cards right and owns a lotus and a ferrari.)

    The ironic thing, in my school everytime I rooted the servers they just asked me how I did it so they could patch it and let me on my way -- I earned a lot of respect from the computer department in my high school because of my maturity through everything. Maybe you should look at the actions of you - an aid is nothing, they mean jack. You should take the responsibility to talk to admins about it, as they are the final word.

    You were not authorized to gain that access from someone who was capable of authorizing you -- therefor you were punished accordingly. Don't bitch about how unfair the system is if you aren't being fair with it.

  • by chrisatslashdot ( 221127 ) <{spamforchris} {at} {}> on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:15AM (#544758)
    So he got suspended a few days. With all the press maybe he'll get a offered an after school computer job making more than his teachers. If he really has skill that is.
  • by JCCyC ( 179760 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @11:49AM (#544769) Journal
    I think your point #2 has a high chance of being close to the truth, although a more sinister idea crossed my mind:

    When ruling China, Mao once started a "let's speak out campaign" in which he EXPLICITLY invited people to write about what was wrong with the country, allegedly in order to improve the quality of government. Many people were elated at this "breath of freedom" and openly spoke what was on their minds. Mao then had the critics neatly identified, categorized, filed and then eliminated.

    I saw this, IIRC, in a British Channel 4 documentary. Links would be appreciated.

  • by WndrBr3d ( 219963 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:23AM (#544772) Homepage Journal
    Same thing happened to me. We used Hypercard to program little programs for our class assignments.

    One day I did a little program that would just beep the computer a few times whenever you opened my hypercard stack. WELL, unknown to me, I coded the beep routine wrong, and it would beep the computer ~10,000 times.

    As an added bonus to this blunder, I did it on Computer #1, the network server (unknown to me).

    Yet to keep adding fun things on the pile, the code also beeped ANY hypercard stack that was oppened.

    So to sum up the situation, by ACCIDENT, I created a hypercard stack that would Beep a computer 10,000 times whenever ANY hypercard stack on the network was opened. ALL BY MISTAKE !!

    So the school called this a VIRUS, and i was givin 2 Weeks In School Suspencion, and I was almost Fined $2,000 for the 'Damages' I caused to the system.

    God forbid a REAL hacker would ever break in. They wouldnt know WHAT to do.
  • by Prophet of Doom ( 250947 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:17AM (#544791)
    Note that in the article they make the statement that he was suspended earlier for visiting inappropriate web sites

    I'm guessing he went to 2600 or l0pht or something, although the vaguarities will lead most people to think of pRon. Amazing how carefully chosen phrases like hacker and inappropriate web sites can sway opinion. Great reporting.

  • by JazzManJim ( 196980 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:26AM (#544800)
    Okay. let's drop all the analogies about breaking into houses and jumping off cliffs. They all miss the point very badly here. There are only a few points that need to be considered here.
    • The teacher was in class giving this challenge.
    • The teacher was seen by the student as being a voice of authority and acting as a representative of the school.
    • Other students in the class heard what the teacher had said and interpreted it in exactly the same way as the student in question.

    Given these three points, the student should be walking away scot-free. Here's an appropriate analogy. A bank manager is giving a seminar about the security of his bank and during this seminar, he says that the alarm company servicing that bank is so confident in their security that it will reward anyone who can disable the alarm system from inside the bank. He further challenges the seminar attendees to do just that and says that he wants a cut of the reward if they can do it, but that he doubts anyone can. Then, when someone who attended the seminar actually does what he chellenged them to do, he says that he was just kidding about the whole thing

    The problem in the story is that the representative of the bank is acting in an official capacity as a bank official, and it could be fairly and successfully argued that anything he ways about his bank is said with the full weight and authority of his position. The same principle works for the school teacher. When a teacher speaks, it is with the full authority of the school, and the school district. That's how they can at least attempt to keep discipline, set grades, and make standards for the grades they do give, set curricula, etc.

    AFAIK, the teacher screwed the pooch here by making a challenge to his students without the authority to follow-through correctly. It's not the students' fault if the teacher overstepped his bounds. They had no way of knowing he wasn't serious, and that he could keep them immune from harm, as he seems to have implied in his challenge (i.e. you'll get a reward and extra credit. That's a reward, not a punishment.).

    That's my take on it, anyhow.

  • by SlapAyoda ( 6041 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:18AM (#544802) Homepage
    Something eerily similar happened to me once, actually. A teachers aide knew I was somewhat knowledgable about their network, and asked me if I thought a determined student could reak havoc on their systems. I told him I could demonstrate just the kind of havoc he could expect, and he asked me to show him. Using a silly NT4 bug that l0pht exploited and publicized, I gained rwx access on all the shares drives in the district (they were all using the same ancient domain controller). Long story short, it set off some serious flags with the admins, and although I didn't modify or destroy any data, I was brought in front of the ruling principal on charges of "Violating the student handbook's computer code and willfully gaining access to unauthorized resources". Even with the testimony of the teacher and teacher's aide, who confirmed I was performing a responsible security audit, I was convicted and sentanced to a two day term out-of-school. That was about the time I realized how much I hated the school system. I dropped out of high-school about a year later (and I'm making more money now as a 17 year old Sysadmin than any of my teachers ever have or will).
  • by JudeFly ( 133707 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:27AM (#544805)
    I had many a teacher in my day who would gurantee an A in their class if their students could solve some impossible problem. I think some teachers like to flaunt that they know something that a 16 yr old kid doesn't.

    In a high school chemistry class my instructor promised an A to anyone in the class who could name another positive polyatomic ion other than ammonium (NH4+). One student raised his hand an said H3O+, which is technically correct (IAAChemist). This instructor told this kid he was an idiot and said if he raised his hand again the rest of the semester he would fail him.

  • by mackga ( 990 ) <> on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:19AM (#544809) Homepage
    Although it's hard to really ascertain what all is involved in this situation, I think that if the teacher did mention anything about hacking/cracking and even slightly gave the impression that he okay'd the action, then the student should be given a break. As a former teacher - grad and undergrad level in college, I know the influence that some teachers can have on their students. To even remotely consider abusing this trust is immoral. Add in high school where students are less sophisticated, and the responsibility that the teacher has to his/her students increases.

    If the teacher said it as a joke, then he should have sent the students a clear indication that he was not serious. If he was serious, then he abused his trust and left one of his students to hang in the wind. The teacher, not the student, should be disciplined.
  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:20AM (#544812) Homepage Journal
    Yes, because as we all know, breaking and entering a public building and disabling censorship software are morally equivalent acts. I say the little punk deserves the chair.
    Bush's assertion: there ought to be limits to freedom
  • by jgerman ( 106518 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:21AM (#544828)
    ...for conspiracy to commit a crime, with a minor no less. Regardless of whether or not the teacher was kidding he was wrong. You can never garauntee that a 15 year old is mature enough to pock up the nuances of adult humor, or sarcasm.

    My initial reaction was that the teacher was kidding and was just telling the students about the reward from the security company, but they claim that there never was a reward. So what would make a teacher lie like that?

    And as far as the kid getting in trouble, at most maybe the school should have explained that it was a joke, this kid caused no damage, and in fact, immediately told the teacher when he had accomplished it.

    Of courser the major problem is this: This is just another case of people ignoiring the real problem, the fact that security is pretty much a joke field. The attitude of "our lock is broken, and you have to pretend that it isn't, and if you don't play along we'll penalize you for pointing out our mistakes." Gotta love that.

  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @10:32AM (#544833)

    The same principle applies though. The teacher was in a position of authority over the student. The teacher works for the local government (unless it was a private school). The teacher basically lied to a group of students and challenged them to do something. The students had no reason to believe that he didn't have the authority to let them do it. Then, when one does it, the teacher turns him in to the police for it. Sounds like entrapment to me.

  • by ( 142825 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:22AM (#544844) Homepage
    If the student is charged with the crime, should not the teacher be charged? What about the software company?

    If the student committed a crime, then the teacher, and the software company incited the commission of a crime. If the teacher asked the students to commit a crime, could it not be conspiracy?

    Now, on the other hand, since the teacher is an employee of the school the student was authorized by the school. The student may have believed that the teacher had the authority, maybe he is due the money from the school system.

    An interesting can of worms.

  • by spankenstein ( 35130 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:22AM (#544848) Homepage

    This reminds me of the computer classes that I had in high school. My school had just gotten our first real computer lab and the teacher was new that year. She knew that I had quite a bit of experience with computers and made a deal that I wouldn't have to do the mindless busy work if I helped her keep things running smoothly.

    I did. I ran cable. Upgraded some the the PowerMacs, installed software and helped the other students.

    Toward the end of the year we had a "project" that was actually going to be used by a company. Like an advertisement or something. I told her that I disagreed with it, that it was wasting the other students education with this mindless corporate crap.

    She got angry and since I hadn't technically done any of the assignments for that year I got an F.

    This wasn't a stand out example either. There were quite a few people in other classes with other teachers that had similar occurences. This is precisesly why i dropped out and got my GED and went to college.

  • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @01:40PM (#544852) Homepage Journal
    Elma School Supt. Bill Myhr, duly noting that the issue was confidential, did say that while some students took the challenge seriously, it wasn't intended that way.

    It doesn't make a damn bit of difference if he didn't mean it. He said it and didn't say he was joking. Let's say that I'm a car salesman having a bad day. I'm talking to a customer about how the business is doing and I say that I'll give the next person to come in here 50% off on any car of their choice. Well let's say that the next person that comes in on the lot is that customer's wife and she says I want that car. I advertised that I would sell it for have off (even if I didn't buy a radio spot and tell the world). If I don't honor it, that's false advertising. It doesn't matter if I'm joking or not. Another exmaple: Let's say I'm sitting at a booth in a diner and I tell my buddy that I'm going to knock off President Recount. My buddy laughs cause he knows I'm joking and of course I am joking, but the person sitting in the booth behind me might not realize it. They call the cops, cops call the secret service, and bam I'm in jail. I said it. I can't prove I was joking, they can't prove I wasn't. Legal ass-raping is what it is. They teacher said it and he didn't explicitly say he was joking. You can't say he implied it. He didn't say it at all. Period. End of story.


  • by autocracy ( 192714 ) <[slashdot2007] [at] []> on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:22AM (#544865) Homepage
    It's all about accountability - a word unkown in this great country of America. The teacher, who is in a position of authority, should be help responsible for giving a student the right to do such a thing. The student was given the idea that because the teacher told him to do so, he had the right. That's not a wrong assumption...

    Therefore, the teacher should be held responsible, the school should review its security, and people shoud ... GET SOME ACCOUNTABILITY!

    It's all about the Karma Points, baybee...
    Moderators: Read from the bottom up!

  • by electricmonk ( 169355 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @01:59PM (#544887) Homepage

    You know, like the Bastard Operator From Hell, only teaching Computer Science. It sure sounds like something right out of an episode of the BOFH []...

  • During my sophomore year of HS i bypassed security on our school's Novell Netware network so I could install Dune II and play it from any location. A (former) friend was playing and got caught, instantly screaming "DEREK DID IT!" to our librarian.

    I got 2 days suspension and computer privilages revoked for the rest of the year, and thought I was being sh1t on. (I was told I was being made an example off) If this had happened today, I'd have been arrested for the computer equivilent of sneaking a gameboy into class.

    It just goes to show the power of ignorance and how easily fear can induce witchhunts.

    It's our job to help educate people if we ever want this to change. It can be done, and we can help by easing fears by becoming part of the defense. I did exactly that as part of my "plea-bargian", and the following 2 years I was hired to help manage the ever-increasing district computer network.

  • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:25AM (#544901)
    > "He gave them a challenge, probably thinking they couldn't do it and didn't think of the ramifications of what might happen if they did do it."

    Reminds me of last weeks South Park. Kyle wanted to go to a concert, but was told he'd have to clean his room, shovel the driveway, and end Communism in Cuba. When Castro announced that a little boy in South Park convinced him to end communism, his parents said he still couldn't go to the concert.

    I think the kid should not only have the suspension lifted, I also think the teacher should pay the kid the reward that he was promised.
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:25AM (#544902) Journal
    I've seen something very similar happen.

    A good friend of mine (Hi Bryce! - who now, incidentally works for RedHat) was challenged by one of the sysadmins at my university to get root on their Sun server. This was in early 1992, when we just had Linux 0.14 too ;-)

    I was there. I know the sysadmin made the challenge. This was also when the encrypted passwords were visible in /etc/passwd on Sun boxes, too. I watched him do the usual tricks (dictionary crack), then write a program, distributed on all the Solbourne workstations, that brute-forced it using the then new fast version of crypt().

    When it became clear to the sysadmin (hi troot!) that the crack was about to succeed, he got his account locked and he was sent to see Big Boss in charge of the computing resources.

    He did get his account back, but he was quite badly reprimanded for this - and it was very unfair too, since one of the sysadmins made the challenge.

    The lesson is: if someone challenges you to hack their system, get it signed and in writing, and witnessed as well. If they do it word of mouth, you'll probably get shafted as soon as the admin realises his security is crap, and you're just about to defeat it...

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @12:35PM (#544936) Journal
    Elma High School Web Site: []

    Elma High School
    Fax: 360-482-1200
    1235 Elma-Monte Road
    Elma, Washington 98541

    further info from the website (may be old):

    Superintendent Bill Myhr
    Business Manager Michele Young
    Director of Special Services Lois Parks
    Director of Vocational Services Bob Pattee
    Director of Athletics Steve Bridge
    Maintenance Supervisor J.D. Boling
    Payroll and Personnel Officer Kay Rotter
    Administrative Assistant Mike Jones
    Office Manager Doris Keeton


    Use this Information for *good*, not evil!


  • by joss ( 1346 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @09:29AM (#544968) Homepage
    When someone breaks into a computer containing sensitive information, it makes a certain amount of sense to hand out punishment... to the idiots who left the computer unsecured.

    Seriously - who is being irresponsible here ?

    If I leave it at this, I'm bound to have some moron respond by saying "what - so you should be punished if someone breaks into your house.."

    Here is a clue, I'll speak slowly for your benefit: c o m p u t e r s a n d h o u s e s a r e d i f f e r e n t

    If it was absolutely impossible to catch thieves, and they could break into your house from the other side of the world, and then break into other people's houses once they had got into yours... there probably would be penalties fo
    r not keeping your front door locked.
  • by walnut ( 78312 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @12:48PM (#544982)
    Boy, you showed them. What better way to get your revenge then to quit school. Personally, I'd have made every effort to sit in the front of my classes, voulenteer to take messages to the office, and otherwise make my presence as known as possible. Considering that it seems you alluded to them driving you out of school, that would have make them nuts. When the system screws you, use the system to screw with the system. By dropping out, you eliminated yourself as a potential threat - whether real or not, and solved their problem. Rather than do that run for student council, and get the school computer policy revoked - or at least establish a students computing rights - one which conflicted with the previous said document. Get enough students to agree with you, a small bit of backing student legislation, and you can twist the arm of the administration. Even making the effort gets your point.

    Oh, and not to nag you - but please, at least go back and get a GED. I know it sounds like a silly peice of paper but you'll thank yourself in 10 years. If you don't want to do college, that's fine, but sooner or later a high school diploma will haunt you big time.

    As a further note, Bill Gates never finished college. Do you want to be a quitter like Bill Gates? :) (This is an attempt at humor / psychology)
  • by Kupek ( 75469 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @02:46PM (#544994)
    If a kid in school says anything along the lines of "I want to kill you" to either a nother student or a teacher, even if everyone understands they're joking, they can get in trouble. A lot of trouble.

    But if a teacher cracks a joke, it's just a joke.

    Good thing I got that straight.

  • by hugg ( 22953 ) on Thursday December 21, 2000 @01:08PM (#545028)
    Now he can tell his future employer that he was the subject of a story on Slashdot, get a nice salary from a computer security firm, and wreak revenge on his oppressors in a Count-of-Monte-Cristo style. Sounds like he's got it made!

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer