2 Bartlett High School students hack into Elgin U-46 portal

  • Two Bartlett High School students hacked into an online portal and changed student attendance records, district officials say.

      Two Bartlett High School students hacked into an online portal and changed student attendance records, district officials say. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, August 2013

 
 

Bartlett police are considering whether to level criminal charges against two Bartlett High School students who hacked into an Elgin Area District U-46 online portal and changed student attendance records, officials said Friday.

The duo also hacked into at least one U-46 staff member's email account, officials said.

"One account being hacked into is one too many," said John Heiderscheidt, the district's coordinator of safety and security. "We're taking every precaution we can."

The district became aware of the breach last week and launched an internal investigation. It alerted Bartlett police Dec. 11.

District officials wouldn't comment on what discipline the students face. Bartlett police continue to investigate.

The two students figured out how to hack into the U-46 network and get around firewall filter restrictions, district spokesman Patrick Mogge said in an email. They used that information to access the staff member's email as well as the so-called Infinite Campus, a password-protected portal that allows parents and students to view transcripts, report cards, information about discipline and other personal data.

Heiderscheidt said the investigation showed that the students manipulated attendance records but didn't appear to view anything else.

It wasn't immediately clear what records they changed.

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The students improperly uploaded a software program onto U-46 computers that tracks keystrokes, enabling hackers to crack passwords to log into accounts, Heiderscheidt said.

He couldn't say how many computers had been given the software, but Mogge said the district has removed all "compromised" computers.

All staffers in the high schools have been told to reset their passwords for Infinite Campus, their Gmail accounts and an intranet for employees.

"We are working on a plan to strengthen our network security," Mogge wrote.

During their investigation, district officials also discovered a website offering to help U-46 students change their attendance records, Heiderscheidt said. He wouldn't say if the two Bartlett students are behind the website.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It looks like they were offering some type of service," Heiderscheidt said.

Bartlett police, meanwhile, say there's no indication the students know two St. Charles East High School students who were expelled after shutting down that district's computer network, keeping teachers from using online grading and other programs for about a month.

In U-46, "there was no interruptions in our services," Heiderscheidt said.

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