By: PHILIP K. IRELAND
December 20, 2005
CARLSBAD ---- At least five students are suspected of breaking into a
computer system last week that houses student records in the San
Dieguito Union High School District, a source within the district said
Four students at La Costa Canyon High School and one student from
Torrey Pines High are suspected of accessing the district's system,
changing grades and downloading teacher tests, said a source familiar
with the investigation who spoke to the North County Times on
condition of anonymity.
"They had access to the whole district," the source said.
At least one student may have sold the tests to other students, the
Superintendent Peggy Lynch rejected the claim that student hackers
gained access to the entire district that maintains student, parent
and employee records.
"We don't know that it was the whole network, and I don't believe
that's true," Lynch said in a interview Tuesday. "I think everything I
know at the moment is that no personal information was compromised
---- names, addresses, phone numbers" and Social Security numbers.
Mark Kelly, a detective with the sheriff's Computer and Technology
Crime High Tech Response Team leading the investigation, confirmed
Monday that he has identified suspects. Kelly said he is investigating
the crimes under section 502 of the California Penal Code, which deals
with computer crimes such as accessing a system without permission,
and knowingly copying, deleting, altering or destroying data. The
crimes carry fines of up to $10,000 and three years in jail.
Kelly said he was working overtime on the case, but declined to
provide additional details or confirm information, saying that he
didn't want to jeopardize the investigation.
In a memorandum sent to school district staff at La Costa Canyon and
Torrey Pines high schools, Lynch confirmed the attack.
"It is apparent that there has been a breach of our network security
by students," she wrote in the memo, obtained Tuesday by the North
County Times. "We know that at least one teacher's test (has) been
compromised and some student grades may have been altered."
The memo instructed teachers to compare paper copies of grades with
electronic versions of the same grades as soon as possible. The memo
also informed staff that they would be required to change their
"We are taking this very seriously," Lynch wrote. "Law enforcement is
involved. The Technology Department is actively taking steps to
prevent this type of breach in the future."
La Costa Canyon Principal Amy Carlin said Monday that she could not
confirm details of the computer breach.
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