By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Aug. 4, 2022 6:35PM KST
Two high school students in the school district of Gwangju, a city in southwestern South Korea, are under investigation for allegedly breaking into their teachers’ office over ten times and hacking the teachers’ laptop computers to gain access to the first semester examination papers and answers.
The Gwangju Seobu police, who are conducting the investigation, said at a press briefing on Monday that they had found that the students tried to steal examination papers and answers for all ten subjects included on the midterm and final exams. The students successively stole the examination papers and answers of seven subjects before the midterm test, which was held from April 27 to 29, and nine subjects before the final test, which was held from July 11 to 13, according to the officials.
The police added that the students snuck automatic screen capturing software onto several computers which captured the test papers and answers and saved them in a file. The police did not disclose the number of computers infected by the program. The police suspect that the students broke into the teachers’ office and transferred the stolen data onto a USB stick.
Although the break-ins were carried out from March to July, the school security system did not detect the entry. “In January, the school security system was cut-off due to the classroom rearrangement construction. It seems that the security system was not restored after the construction,” said the police.
The police also discovered during the investigation that there was some evidence of an attempt to install a software program which was intended to be used to remotely control the targeted computer system. Whether the students used other hacking tools to break into the teachers’ computer is currently unclear. A police official told The Readable on Wednesday that he could not disclose further details.
The students’ wrongdoing was reportedly first caught by other students at their school. Some of their classmates witnessed one of the two students throwing out a shred of exam paper which later was discovered to be an exact match with the exam answers. Several parents and the school administration called for an investigation. During the investigation, the two students came forward to confess their crimes to the police.
Education authorities are taking action to prevent students from hacking teachers’ computers. The superintendent of the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education, Lee Jeong-seon, held a press conference on Tuesday and said that they will immediately install a defense system on all computers and laptops used by teachers before the second semester midterm starts.
The Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education has been inspecting its schools’ security systems once every two years. “Since the pandemic, we have refrained from visiting schools. Instead, we have received written documents from each school about security measures. [The school where the hacking happened] had submitted the documents last year,” said the official. According to the official, the school reported in the document that their security measures were appropriate, which meant that the school did not need further inspection from the education authorities.
The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.
Kuksung Nam is a cybersecurity journalist for The Readable. She covers cybersecurity issues in South Korea, including the public and private sectors. Prior to joining The Readable, she worked as a political reporter for one of the top-five local newspapers in South Korea, The Kyeongin Ilbo, where she reported several exclusive stories regarding the misconduct of local government officials. She is currently focused on issues related to anti-fraud, as well as threats and crimes in cyberspace. She is a Korean native who is fluent in English and French, and she is interested in delivering the news to a global audience.