SCU probes hacking, grades tampering

November 15, 2011 12:33:44 AM PST
The FBI is helping Santa Clara University figure out who hacked into its network, changing the grades of dozens of students and alumni. It was a sophisticated intrusion into a sophisticated system. It all came to light when a former student noticed something unusual on her transcript.

Whoever hacked into the academic records database at Santa Clara University changed the grades of more than 60 students and alumni. Administrators believe it happened sometime between June 2010 and July of this year. In every case, the grade had been improved, sometimes as drastic as turning an 'F' into an 'A.'

No one knows if the hacker is a student, former student, or someone unrelated to the university. The motive is also unclear. So whether the hacker changed the grades to help people he or she knew or was doing it as a prank is anyone's guess.

"We'll notify each student or former student that one of their grades may have been changed; at that point I think we'll hear a reaction from the students that were involved," Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Jacobs said.

But students doubt that anyone from their school was in on it. They say everyone here signs an honor code.

"We have some of the best students; like, cheating is really not an issue at this university for the most part," student Matt Mosier said.

In fact, it was an alumna who first alerted the university that a grade on her transcript was different than what had been printed in the past.

"I think it's an admirable trait for her to step forward and say that her grade was changed that the grade was wrong, so I think that also says a lot about the atmosphere of Santa Clara," student Perri Chilton said.

Administrators say they've improved the university's network security since the hacking incident was discovered in August, and will continue to implement additional safety measures.

"I'm glad they found out that this happened and hopefully we can get it all fixed and get everyone's grades settled because it really affects the work that all students have here," student Nhunguyen Le said.


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