Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

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#16 royfang  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:34 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 13 June 2013 - 08:06 AM, said:

Ethical breaches are difficult to recover from, reputationally speaking. The reasons are maybe not good, but certainly understandable: most professions put people in positions where they can do serious harm and it's very difficult to review their work. For example, in my work I have access to details of the workings of my firm's internal systems, and also could gain access to client financial data. The degree of damage I could do with that knowledge is really quite astounding, and while there are safeguards, I am ultimately working because I am trusted not to do that damage, either intentionally or unintentionally.
So this is difficult to get past, for an employer, and that's really the right response. I would prefer that doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals be held to a high ethical standard, and I hold myself to that standard.

Unfortunately for you, you've given evidence that, at least at one point in the past, you have not held yourself to that standard. Your description of the incident suggests that "no harm was done", this is not a mitigating factor. If you break into my house and just look around, this is as much of a violation as if you break in and take my stuff. The response might be different, but the ethical breach is the same.

Fortunately, it is possible to recover, I think. I would suggest that for the foreseeable future, you must be the first person to bring this up. Don't let a potential employer or school be the one to discover this, and don't make them ask you about it. And when describing the incident, don't try to downplay it. "nobody was hurt" is the wrong thing to say. Describe exactly what you did: you defeated school security measures to access information that you were not authorized to access. Let the person you're talking about make the judgements.


One interesting possibility occurs to me, if you decide that medicine is closed to you (it might not be, you should talk to an academic or professional advisor about this). I suspect that there are not a lot of good programmers with significant domain knowledge in medicine. You might be that person. This could be worth pursuing.


Yes, I do realize the degree of trust that is required by all professions including in computers especially. And sadly, I should have thought about this before committing to my mistake. And yes, the "truth policy" is always the best policy. I don't intend to downplay my actions. I have thought about the damaged I have caused. I could have accessed to a lot of sensitive information as well as sadly risked the IT security manager his job, career, and possibly his family. I hope when the time of judgement comes, they will be able to accept me for what I have done and see that I have learned from my foolish and naive self.
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#17 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:40 AM

View Postroyfang, on 13 June 2013 - 10:34 AM, said:

I have thought about the damaged I have caused. I could have accessed to a lot of sensitive information as well as sadly risked the IT security manager his job, career, and possibly his family.


The fact that you're thinking about this in particular speaks well for you.
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#18 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:44 AM

My question is this: Is your sadness and shame stemming from the fact that you did it... or the fact you were caught? Would you still feel the same shame if your actions had gone completely unnoticed?
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#19 royfang  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:46 AM

View PostDarenR, on 13 June 2013 - 07:11 AM, said:

A friend of mine did that in college--got suspended and then got hired at a software firm--- so you tell me how bad can it possibly hurt?


I know that in any profession it will be difficult to forgive anyone for such actions. Yet, when you ask how bad it can be, for me, I originally felt very passionate about becoming a doctor -and I still do. If the medical college could pay for my tuition, I would willingly give up my paychcek until I have enough money to live a simple life, to the point of only riding a bike to work, I would do it. So in my sense, its hurting a lot. To know that you have the potential to achieve yet made a foolish that costed you everything, it hurts but that's life. I have grown to accept what I did.

Now I was wondering if being a computer science major would at least give me a chance at, at least, a professional career if medicine will no longer accept me. Again, I do realize that great trust is required in every career. And I have and surely will redeem myself further.
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#20 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:52 AM

*
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So you did ask, got told 'no' and went ahead and did it anyway. Per what Jon said so well, that kind of thought process is one of the things professions like medicine need to be correct and inviolable and you pooched it.

One of the sad things about the way we do things is that our educational system is built towards teaching the young. That is to say, we spend an inordinate amount of time and money on an educational system designed to educate the least mature and experienced amongst. That's not being harsh or anything, it's just being honest. Kids go to school these days to pursue degrees that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and many times those same kids have no solid idea what they'll eventually want to do. In short, we force them to make huge decisions about the direction their entire life can take at a time when they have no reservoir of experience or wisdom to draw from to help inform that decision.

In your case, even after you're superficially at least admitting that what you did was wrong, you still color your explanation with describing your professors' decisions as "silly" and illustrating that silliness by presenting that the material they refused to release practically identical and then postulating the "why" of their decision in a manner suggesting you were then and still are in a position to qualitatively judge those decisions.

You're not.

Education is viewed by many as simply imparting information to students that they absorb and then regurgitate via various means to determine whether they have retained the requisite amount in order to suggest they understand and have perhaps mastered it. That holds in primary and secondary education but not really in post-secondary, especially for professional degrees. There is a reason why in university the lecture classes get smaller, you do projects or research with a faculty mentor, you sometimes present an original thesis which is then cross-examined and peer reviewed by the academic staff. The entire process is geared to allowing the person or board who will certify to the world, via the granting of a degree, that you possess not only the actual book knowledge of your area of expertise but that you are, in fact, a professional. Ethics is a huge part of being a professional and they are there to assess that aspect of your education as well. It's as much a part as the actual exam grades.

Kids' entire lives up that point are often filled with "well, if you missed the point, we'll try again" whereas in the situation you describe it's more of a "one and done" approach. You get no do-overs for ethical lapses like plagiarism, cheating and the like and for many kids that's the first time that life has punched them in the face like that and then said "nope, no appeals...enjoy your bloody nose".

I hope you don't get treated that harshly but the bald fact is, you did something you knew you weren't supposed to, got caught, and the possible penalty is to forfeit all the hard work you've done. And to be even more brutally honest, it's really the right way for things to be. Consider that your school likely took in, say 1000, incoming freshmen for your course of study and you were one of them. However, there IS, somewhere, a student 1001 that DIDN'T make it who might have been just as academically accomplished as you and so their dream died a little so yours could live...and perhaps had they made it, they would have had a slightly stronger ethical streak and would continue onwards where you might not.

I do indeed hope you can recover from this but either way, whether you realize it or not, you did get an education from the event.

This post has been edited by Craig328: 13 June 2013 - 08:54 AM

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#21 royfang  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:59 AM

View PostBenignDesign, on 13 June 2013 - 08:44 AM, said:

My question is this: Is your sadness and shame stemming from the fact that you did it... or the fact you were caught? Would you still feel the same shame if your actions had gone completely unnoticed?


I will be completely honest with you. At first, the very first 5 seconds when the police officers came to me and told me to come along with them, I was sad that I was caught. However, immediately, I remembered all of the people at the University who believed in me. The sponsors of my scholarship, my mentor for my early assurance medical program, my friends who constantly looked up to me as their model for a hard working student, my high school who used me as this example as well, and my family. It was hard to even believe that a person like me, once a good and honest student, was ever compelled to do such a thing. It was just simply wasn't my normal character. I am ashamed that I failed them all through doing what I did. And if this went unnoticed, I would still feel the same sadness and guilt each and everyday I looked at all of these people. But sadly, I would never have the guts to tell them I have failed them.

Despite everything that happened, I am glad that I don't have to live with the burden of the guilt.
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#22 royfang  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:04 AM

View PostCraig328, on 13 June 2013 - 08:52 AM, said:

So you did ask, got told 'no' and went ahead and did it anyway. Per what Jon said so well, that kind of thought process is one of the things professions like medicine need to be correct and inviolable and you pooched it.

One of the sad things about the way we do things is that our educational system is built towards teaching the young. That is to say, we spend an inordinate amount of time and money on an educational system designed to educate the least mature and experienced amongst. That's not being harsh or anything, it's just being honest. Kids go to school these days to pursue degrees that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and many times those same kids have no solid idea what they'll eventually want to do. In short, we force them to make huge decisions about the direction their entire life can take at a time when they have no reservoir of experience or wisdom to draw from to help inform that decision.

In your case, even after you're superficially at least admitting that what you did was wrong, you still color your explanation with describing your professors' decisions as "silly" and illustrating that silliness by presenting that the material they refused to release practically identical and then postulating the "why" of their decision in a manner suggesting you were then and still are in a position to qualitatively judge those decisions.

You're not.

Education is viewed by many as simply imparting information to students that they absorb and then regurgitate via various means to determine whether they have retained the requisite amount in order to suggest they understand and have perhaps mastered it. That holds in primary and secondary education but not really in post-secondary, especially for professional degrees. There is a reason why in university the lecture classes get smaller, you do projects or research with a faculty mentor, you sometimes present an original thesis which is then cross-examined and peer reviewed by the academic staff. The entire process is geared to allowing the person or board who will certify to the world, via the granting of a degree, that you possess not only the actual book knowledge of your area of expertise but that you are, in fact, a professional. Ethics is a huge part of being a professional and they are there to assess that aspect of your education as well. It's as much a part as the actual exam grades.

Kids' entire lives up that point are often filled with "well, if you missed the point, we'll try again" whereas in the situation you describe it's more of a "one and done" approach. You get no do-overs for ethical lapses like plagiarism, cheating and the like and for many kids that's the first time that life has punched them in the face like that and then said "nope, no appeals...enjoy your bloody nose".

I hope you don't get treated that harshly but the bald fact is, you did something you knew you weren't supposed to, got caught, and the possible penalty is to forfeit all the hard work you've done. And to be even more brutally honest, it's really the right way for things to be. Consider that your school likely took in, say 1000, incoming freshmen for your course of study and you were one of them. However, there IS, somewhere, a student 1001 that DIDN'T make it who might have been just as academically accomplished as you and so their dream died a little so yours could live...and perhaps had they made it, they would have had a slightly stronger ethical streak and would continue onwards where you might not.

I do indeed hope you can recover from this but either way, whether you realize it or not, you did get an education from the event.


All you said is true. Thank you.
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#23 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:12 AM

I'll ask this because I'm curious but it's not really material to your situation...when you say you "hacked them" what did you do?

I ask because what you described you took sounds a lot more like you exploited a weakness in a website and got access to documentation you weren't supposed to have access to or maybe you did something ridiculously easy like simply change a value in the URL string in the browser and their site had no thorough means to assess each incoming request.

Since you've said you're not a CS major, how did you know what to do to perform this hacking? What did you do?
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#24 royfang  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:29 AM

Sadly, it is not as simple as changing a string in a website url.

It is dangerous knowledge. I wish I never knew it and no one else should. sigh.....
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#25 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:33 AM

You know, I think it's probably just as well not to get into specifics here. I'd rather not have this turn into a discussion of techniques for gaining unauthorized access to other people's data.
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#26 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:48 AM

View Postroyfang, on 13 June 2013 - 01:57 AM, said:

I was wondering if I should just become the computer scientist. Would you think any company will be willing to hire me because of this incident?

I generally suggest to anyone looking to poke around where they are not wanted : No company that gives the slightest care or concern about security will put a convicted felon behind a keyboard.

Isn't it something like 85% of cybercrime is internal?

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 13 June 2013 - 02:33 PM, said:

I'd rather not have this turn into a discussion of techniques for gaining unauthorized access to other people's data.

Thus far I have only read the initial post. If the topic does go in this direction, it will be shut down & offending posts will be removed. Bypassing security is not what Dream In Code is about, & if that is your interest (not saying specifically you jon, you relative to whomever), there certainly is no shortage of those sites & forums on the internet. Anyone is welcome to take that discussion elsewhere.
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#27 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:52 AM

This thread reminds me a bit of the novel Crime and Punishment.
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#28 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:20 PM

I didn't want the exact details but was looking for a more generic description. A buffer overflow attack, for example, would be a description of what he did but not an explanation for how to do it.

I ask because if you're bright enough on your own to figure out how to hack a site then you should be bright enough to ensure that backtracking your efforts is a futile waste of time for those investigating such an activity.

My guess is we're probably talking about a downloaded script (script kiddie, if you will) or he guessed a password or two. Police showing up to your door means you did it from home or used a computer you'd previously accessed the same network with previously...either of which is something a hacker would take great pains to cover/eliminate.

I'm simply curious that when his burning thirst for knowledge led him to break some serious student IT rules whether he educated himself on how to do what he did or whether he lazed out and downloaded a script. His initial post asked "I was wondering if I should just become the computer scientist"...so I'm wondering how he came to be a hacker is all.
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#29 supersloth  Icon User is online

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:50 PM

i'm with craig, i'm pretty interested in a general description of what occurred.
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#30 WolfCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Hacked College's Computers, Not a CS major.....

Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:54 PM

View Postroyfang, on 13 June 2013 - 12:29 PM, said:

...It is dangerous knowledge. I wish I never knew it and no one else should. sigh.....


But when you say stuff like this you sound really egotistical with your forbidden knowledge of the ancients when all it probably was were a few scripts. You obviously lacked the knowledge of how not to get caught or anything else a real hacker would find useful.

You try to sound repentant, but this coupled with the fact you're telling this story on an online forum means you're an attention seeking narcissist.
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