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Top Student Charged With Fixing Grades For Cash 135

alphadogg writes "A Nevada student who gave the opening address at his high school graduation last year has been charged with breaking into his school district's computer system and bumping up his classmates' grades for a fee. Police say Tyler Coyner, 19, was the ringleader in a group of 13 students who have been charged with conspiracy, theft and computer intrusion in connection with the case. Last year, Coyner somehow obtained a password to the Pahrump Valley High School's grade system and, over the course of two semesters, offered to change grades in return for cash payments, police say."
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Top Student Charged With Fixing Grades For Cash

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  • So for anyone who has seen that film, doesn't this seem remarkably similar? (Aside from starting a nuclear war...)
  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:59AM (#35389136)

    was the password on a piece of paper in the office and he just know where it was stored it?

    • was it "pencil"?

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      I guess we'll know when defcon changes to something other then the current 5.

    • Haven't you played Deus Ex? The password was probably left on the Bathroom floor, or behind a few stacked up boxes in the Gymnasium.

    • That's what happened in my high school — the school IT people would store the administrator password on sticky notes. Inevitably one fell off in the hallway, and my friends and I found it, and decided to pull a few pranks.

      The administration and IT people got really pissed and changed the password. Which, of course, we found a few days later sitting on a sticky note in the hall...

      It's really more sad than funny, actually, because not only did the IT people use the same administrator password ev
      • by GNious ( 953874 )

        We were given an assignment to spend 45 minutes of (self-)learning about computer security.
        I looked at WinNT security, then managed to change the Local Admin account's password, and finally walked down to IT to ask them to reset it (never figured out the original passwork). Was given a lecture about how this was reason for expelling me, which I turned around to a lecture on having proper security, and then reminded them that I was one of their best students.
        Back in class we had to recount our 45 minutes for

      • by mkiwi ( 585287 )

        In my day we had token-ring IBM machines all hooked into a netware setup. For those of you who don't know, there's a really serious exploit possible by faking out netware when running over token ring–something that would give you full admin privileges. I believe the packet interception tool was called Pandora, but it's been a long time.

        Anyway, one could just go to Barnes and Noble, buy a book about security exploits, and be in business. I never went that far, but there was someone who posted some n

      • When I was in high school I got a summer job with the district IT department installing computers.

        Amusingly, the district IT admins decided to add my account to the domain administrators AD group (which gave us full access to every server in the district, including the ones with the grade databases). They also gave us the GGM key (which opened every lock in the district) and a sheet with the alarm codes to every school.

        We didn't do anything, but that's a surprising amount of trust to place in a 16-year-old

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          Respect and trust is usually reciprocal and what is given is usually returned. Likewise, if you treat someone like a thief, they will steal from you.
    • by hldn ( 1085833 )

      we ran a windows password cracker on a shared PC in high school and ended up with hundreds of account passwords, including the principal's. it was hannah, leading to much lulz -- WE'VE GOT HANNAH MR PRINCIPAL. +10 to anyone getting the reference.

    • was the password on a piece of paper in the office and he just know where it was stored it?

      It doesn't matter under the law. If you enter my house and remove my property from it, it's irrelevant that you found the key under the mat - you're still guilty of breaking and entering and of theft.

      (And no, my key isn't under the mat, I'm smarter than that. A fellow geocacher might find it, but not an ordinary burglar.)

    • This happened at my high school years ago (aside from the grade selling). The student in question put keyloggers on a number of PC's in one lab trying to get a friend's Ragnarok Online password, but instead got the system admin login info. He was caught when his calculus teacher went to change the grade of one of her other students from the semester before and discovered his D- became a straight C.
    • That is in addition to the fact that it seems to be remained the same "over the course of two semesters"

  • Somehow (Score:4, Funny)

    by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:00PM (#35389152) Journal

    Last year, Coyner somehow obtained a password to the Pahrump Valley High School's grade system...

    "password", mmm, no. "123456" Oh, hey -- we're in!

  • his ROT-26 encryption!
  • by schmidt349 ( 690948 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:03PM (#35389172)

    We need to come down hard on miscreants like this. Sure, right now he's stealing passwords from the school office and changing grades, but soon that won't be enough for him, and before long he'll be wardialing military contractors with his IMSAI 8080 and acoustocoupler modem.

    • But who else will convince Prof. Faulken to teach Joshua that the only winning move is not to play? And besides, grades want to be A's and I don't believe in GPAs. Also, the entire education system is broken, so it's our moral imperative to break the rules.
  • Not changing a password at least once in two semesters, i.e., a whole school year. Tsk tsk.
  • I'm sure Goldman Sachs and major banks are scrambling over themselves to offer him a fat six figure starting salary.
  • Top Student (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neoform ( 551705 ) <> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:25PM (#35389278) Homepage

    Was he really the top student, or did he fix his own grades too?

  • Save Ferris
  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:31PM (#35389302)

    In the Pahrump Valley Times profile, Coyner says he dreamed of attending an Ivy league school like Harvard and that he wanted to become a hedge fund trader.

    Wow. A lying, cheating, bastard dreams of being a hedge fund trader. I'm sure that the guild of hedge fund traders will bar him preemptively from joining them, thereby preventing everyone's pristine reputation as ethical and trustworthy human beings from being sullied by association.

    • "Hedge fund trader", "ethical", "trustworthy" being used in the same sentence = ROFLMAO

      • Hedge fund traders have never been accused of being ethical or trustworthy except by their defense attorneys.

        Sentence is entirely valid and works just fine. Your comment is just invalid :)
    • Why would you go to an Ivy League school to become a salesman who gambles for a living. Frankly, I think the biggest problem with professional gamblers like hedge fund traders and other financial traders in general is that instead of a cheap trading license (which I actually got when I was 19 after 1.5 weeks of studying part time, never used it, I don't approve of gambling), traders should be required to have a degree from a university with a specialization on statistics and probabilities.

      So far as I can te
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "I didn't get a 'Pahrump' out of you."


    "You watch your ass."

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:45PM (#35389376) Homepage Journal
    After college, he will probably get tapped by a rating agency right away. Standards & Poors, Fitch, whatever.

    lucky brat. then he will be able to fix grades all he wants, and will be paid for and applauded for it.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:53PM (#35389420) Journal
    Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, McKenzy etc are all at awe by the precocious ability shown by this young man. Mr Werobam Erica, spokesman for the Cleptolegit Institute, a think tank where finance managers of the top companies exchange ideas about how to rake in millions of dollars and amending the laws post-facto to make it legal, said that this man is CEO material and predicted great things in store for him.
    • Rather..

        "Anyone worthy enough to work at here at high levels has a father who can buy the school some stadium lighting or library donation to hush it all up. No need for police here.

      Only a clod would make it all the way to /."

  • When a user complains about a sound password policy, this story is a good explanation of why it's really not just the admin's special way of annoying everyone.
    • but the grade system may just have 1 login that is used by more then 1 person or it's some system that does not have policy's.
      Also schools some times still use lots of old software.

    • I changed brokerages recently to one that has some annoying log in policies. I just remind myself that banks should be going the extra mile to make things annoying, even if it is annoying at times.

    • the key is getting the balance, too short and/or simple and it's easilly shoulder surfed (and if someone gets the password hashes or you have a login system that doesn't limit retries too easilly brute forced). Too long and you risk it getting written down on a post-it note that somehow finds it's way into student hands.

  • And got a computer. How's that for being born under a bad sign?". Meanwhile across town..."...nine times......GRACE! GRACE!"
  • by NewToNix ( 668737 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:50PM (#35389928) Journal
    I own some property in Pahrump (but don't live there, although I'm there quite a lot). So I can tell you the level of technical savvy in Pahrump is unbelievably low.

    Even basic things, like fairly well established 'net conventions have not penetrated very far. For example, many local Gov. officials send all caps emails (but then so does a fairly large % of the local populace).

    Nevada in general, and Pahrump in particular, are among the nations lowest ranked in education. The Nevada educational systems are in desperate need of overhaul.

    It is also worth noting that when arrested in his University of Nevada, Reno dorm, he had a stolen TV and equipment for making counterfeit drivers' licenses.

    Here's a link to the local paper, with pictures and local comments; []

    A quote from the comments by "3rd year Engineering Student":

    @Isaac- I don't know the kid so I can't comment on his actual personality in different situations. It is unusual to have a smile when being arrested for a felony charge. Also hacking a system is really just the same as getting a code to access it without authorization. He also "hacked" when he changed his GPA. Given he actually did these things, he would be considered a "Black Hat Hacker" which is the worst type of hacker(there are good hackers like web designers). You need to check the definition of a hacker.

    I think "3rd year Engineering Student" may need to check some definitions himself... but the pathetic part is that no one questions his expertise, or the definitions he offers.

    Pahrump is a nice place in many ways, but it's also a lot like stepping back in time in many ways. The population is about 35,000, and it's about 50 miles from Las Vegas.

  • GOD is not a good password.
  • At least not in my opinion. My buddy did the same thing when we were in high school about 6 or 7 years ago. Booted up in Linux, copied the SAM file over, cracked it at home. Did it a few times until we found one that the administrator account had logged into. He was never caught until the end of the year because we decided to pull a prank and change the standard wallpaper for all the student accounts to this []. He was caught because as it turns out, the system
  • I don't see the issue here. We raise our children to believe that money is the most important thing in the world, and they act accrdingly. Why on earth would that surprise anyone?

    The hedge fund thing just highlights the point.

  • I wonder if this is one of those schools that gives its students laptops? There are schools in the area who have a wireless access point in almost every classroom. I had a friend who would bring his own laptop in, knock out the access point (not entirely sure how), and just man in the middle everyone in the room when they tried to reconnect to the router. Bam, every single kids password, including any teachers/administrator who also tried to reconnect. He got kicked out of the first school for changing
  • bah! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Blymie ( 231220 )

    You know, 25 years ago I managed to get a hold of a teacher's grade book. I modified my mark on one test, just because I was annoyed at having an overall average under 90%.

    (We didn't have A or C grades, nor GPA... just a mean average of all tests in the year. 85% right, 97% right, etc)

    Funny thing is, first -- he did not notice until a friend of mine kept saying 'doesn't that 8 look weird?' to the teacher. ;) It was all good fun, in that, we could not believe he had not noticed.

    However, the downside was -

  • Do you mean that the horribly inefficient school system that relies on grades instead of actual knowledge makes it desirable to cheat for higher grades? Really!? What a surprise!

  • by choko ( 44196 )

    Someone should tell them that not every computer NEEDS to be attached to a network all the time.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.