Hacking By Students


While protecting student’s online safety is a must, so is protecting school computers from malicious students.

Students hacking school databases to change grades, stealing computer passwords, infecting computers with key-stroke logging malware, accessing secure sections of school sites, posting pornography or hate content on school sites, or hijacking a school’s website – to name a few of administrator’s dilemmas.

And it is a reality schools across the country struggle with.  Just recently, 2 cases of hacking by students have highlighted news. In one case, students hacked into school system to change grades and in the other, students paid hackers to delete their absenteeism records from the system.



“Students are very, very tech-savvy.”  Martinez & Harper 2008.Staying ahead of would-be hackers is not a one-fix solution; it’s an ongoing process that periodically assesses new and existing threats and updates security practices.

Following measures can be taken to prevent hacking at school;

1. Ensure school computers have up-to-date security software installed, and that it automatically updates. Be sure firewalls are set, and enforce the use of  strong passwords.

2. Set the ground rules that outline what is (and isn’t) acceptable use of school computers, and make sure students and their parents are aware of both the rules and the consequences for hacking, harassment security breaches, or failing to adhere to the schools acceptable use policy. Talk about these standards periodically, not just during the first week of school.

3. Leverage content filtering technologies that help prevent students from seeking out inappropriate online content.

4. Use two networks – one for students, another for teachers and staff. This makes it harder for students to hack into sensitive information.

5. Teach internet safety and digital responsibility to help students develop a strong online ethic.





Martinez S. and Harper D, 2008,  Working with Tech-Savvy Kids





4 thoughts on “Hacking By Students

  1. hdean06 says:

    Hacking is certainly an issue that continually needs monitoring. I agree students are very tech savvy and seem to be a step ahead. I like your idea of teachers and students using different platforms which I am sure is already in practice in a majority of schools. I think High School students are more likely to hack into data bases to alter absenteeism or grades.
    With the rapid pace of technology changing educating students continually on their consequences will hopefully deter them from trying to ‘dodge’ the system.
    Your use of graphics is impressive 🙂


  2. esc407robert says:

    Hi Ash I enjoyed reading your perspective on hacking from students and not having the standard ‘student is the victim’ approach. I can say with honesty when I read hacking as a topic of discussion I didn’t even consider the possibility of student perpetrators. I would like to think that most schools would already have these precautions in place to protect from this malicious behaviour and also believe it is important to constantly re-evaluate security protocols to keep up to date with technology.


  3. tlukins says:


    Another thoughtful, balanced and well presented blog, thanks. I also looked into the issue of hacking, and as well as all the issues that you’ve mentioned above I found an interesting idea that stuck out for me. Studies have found that hackers often consider their actions morally right and acceptable to their peers, whilst their peers actually have a much less tolerant attitude towards hacking (see my Blog 8 for reference to Young et al., 2007). Their feeling being something about the idea of being a faceless justice warrior or that the system has wronged them. I think presenting the fact that such activities work only to hinder the outcome of their peers (backed up with real life examples) could be part of digital citizenship education.



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