New Trier student accused of hacking ...

New Trier student accused of hacking into school computer system

There are 159 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Feb 29, 2008, titled New Trier student accused of hacking into school computer system. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

A student hacked into the New Trier school district's computer system and obtained grades and ACT scores, apparently to determine the class rank of other students, according to a memo sent to parents Friday.

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a disinterested party

AOL

#152 May 8, 2008
"hacking laws are meant to be broken"???? Are all laws meant to be broken? I am somewhat confused by this attitude. Is this what the New Trier community accepts and wants to teach their children?
Nick Drozdoff

Algonquin, IL

#153 May 8, 2008
Jonah is not just a bright kid. His abilities border on genius. Believe me, I know. What he did was mistaken. He knows it was wrong. However, his intent, which is NOT discussed here (nor do I feel that I should try to - it's not my place to do so)was not malicious in any way. Yes, what he did was tantamount to pushing his way into someone's home, but what he did was the equivalent to taking snapshots of the interior to do a decorating study. While he had access to very sensitive information, he had no intention of doing identity theft.

In addition to the hacking incident itself (which was definitely a criminal act, however white collar)there was the way the passwords were obtained. There is no "someone is smarter than someone else" going on there at all. It was a betrayal of trust, plain and simple.

The school HAD to prosecute. They had no choice. To NOT do so would send the wrong message on so many levels. Sadly, I have to support this action. I hope Jonah now realizes the importance of genuine trust.

I would also argue for leniency. This is no ordinary young man. This is a brilliant young person and the world would be a worse place to not have him. Certainly he did something wrong and he deserves to be punished, but let the punishment fit the crime. Jonah should NOT have his life ruined for being an incredibly smart kid who was playing "cyber-spook" trying to see how far he could get. The biggest hurt was to the school, financially in man hours, unraveling the mess. There were no victims nor were there ever intended to be any. Believe me, NTHS will not have any trouble balancing the books at year's end because of this event. I am a taxpayer in this district, so I know how well fixed NTHS is.

I don't support the idea of jail time for this young man. A fine might be in order. Perhaps some community service. Last year I had to appear as a witness in court on behalf of a young man who was beat up by a bully on a street by the school. I broke up the fight. The bully took off, and I helepd the victim report the crime. Well, the bully got off with a suspended sentence, a modest fine and community serive. THAT kid was trying to do physical damage to another person. Jonah's crime pales by comparison and JONAH owned up for it. His life should not be ruined for this, IMHO.

I for one KNOW he is remorseful and that he cooperated completely in all of this. I am so glad he will be able to pursue his college career and that he will be able to contribute.

According to the article he said in his Facebook that he wished he could disappear. Well, I would say to him, "Take your lumps, Jonah. Deal with it and learn from it! You are one smart kid, and smart kids learn from their mistakes. I know you have. Now move on and show us how good you really are! I look forward to the great things you'll do in penance, if you will. You'll dazzle us all, and, in spite of our problems, I'm proud to have worked with you. Peace!"

-->Nick Drozdoff

PS: Jonah, I'd love to see you do lectures on the importance of integrity in the cyber world and how easily one can let things slip not realizing it, because of the impersonality of the computer screen. Help other learn from your mistake. Just a thought.-->>ND
Nick Drozdoff

Lombard, IL

#154 May 8, 2008
As an addendum to my last post, in addition to being a New Trier parent and tax payer, I am a New Trier teacher. For those who don't know who I am, I feel the need to add this in the interest of full disclosure.

ND
Community Member

Lake Forest, IL

#155 May 11, 2008
Kudos, Mr. Drozdoff! I agree with you wholeheartedly and I am so glad to see someone finally mention that Jonah violated someone's trust by using his teacher's password. I have known Jonah since he was a little boy and know how smart he is and I too hope he learns from this unfortunate exercise of poor judgment and lack of ethics. I believe New Trier had to prosecute and I believe Jonah should receive lenient punishment.
Oscar

Las Vegas, NV

#156 May 11, 2008
Give the kid 15 years in PRISON. But instead, all they get is a slap on the wrist. Some Deterrent.
Christine Chicago

Chicago, IL

#157 May 12, 2008
Stop defending a criminal act. It is so obvious who the NTHS "parents" are that are posting on this board. You should be ashamed of yourselves. What this kid did was CRIMINAL, and the parents on this site are "Oh, he is such a well behaved kid, he is so nice, he is such a bright young man and such an over achiever" This is OUTRAGEOUS!!! Maybe if he was accused of hacking into a bank the parents might take it seriously if it was their hard cold cash at risk I think it is absolutely PATHETIC what enablers there are in Winnetka. I don't care what school this is or what side of the political fence the majority of the city leans, this is absolutely WRONG. My boyfriend is a high school teacher at OPRF High School (Oak Park) and it is parents like this that makes teachers jobs an absolute nightmare. It is the parents that lay the groundwork for this type of behavior and then have their attorneys on speed dial when their little angels get caught KNOWINGLY doing something that is not only against school policy, but against the law. This kid should be expelled and prosecuted. I am appalled by the fact that these parents are so blinded by their own lack of ethics and integrity that they cannot see this. THis story is a shining example of why there are so many problems in our schools today. The number one cause is the parents. What happened to the days when the parents would enforce the rules both at home and at school, and work together with the school officials to ensure their kid was developing into a law abiding and honest young adult? This incident says more about the parents of the students at NT than it does about the student that did the hacking, and by the looks of this comment section, it is crystal clear why kids even attempt something so blatantly stupid and unlawful...if they get caught, they know mommy and daddy will just hire a high powered attorney and a PR consultant to save the "family name" and get them out of it. It is OUTRAGEOUS!!!
Reverend Dewey Cox

Chicago, IL

#158 May 13, 2008
You all watch too many movies and too much TV.

Whoever left their password on a post-it, especially if it was a staff member is an idiot.

And if the school had any type of IT policy, one of the first things they tell staff and students alike is DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR PASSWORD TO ANYONE. That policy is usually followed up by a warning that violation of the policy can result in punishment up to, and including termination. And prior to contracting for employment, the employee has to read and sign the document.

You wouldn't leave your bank PIN on a post-it, so why would you leave your password out on one?

It's well documented that he weakest point in any computer system is the human factor.
Former Student

Northbrook, IL

#159 May 16, 2008
Dude you're the idiot. Try reading up on the topic before posting.
Milton

Portland, OR

#161 Sep 28, 2008
I was rereading the book Endgame the other day and saw this bit in it about hierarchy. Seemed interesting to me.

Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

Premise Five: The property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control—in everyday language, to make money—by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.
2008 New Trier Grad

West Hartford, CT

#162 Oct 14, 2008
None of you know what you are talking about!!! I was in "the hacker's" class at NT. He(we all know by now that is was a guy) was one of the smartest, nicest kids ever. Yes he abused a password a teacher gave to him in confidence but with good reason. Image you are a marathon runner, you train and train. Work hard, really hard only to run the biggest race of your life and NOT know what place you came in. Thats exactly how this boy's life was at NT. New Trier does not give out class ranking and this student just wanted to know where he stood. He didn't look and anyones SSN OR ACT scores. He hack into the system to see GPA's and while that may be wrong the only "criminal offense" he did was breach the school's security. While what this student did may have been wrong, during his suspension, explosion, whatever he still kept of his website and helped students from the TWO AP classes he was a SILC for. And Fuck New Trier for not even letting him go to prom or the graduation party.
2008 New Trier Grad

West Hartford, CT

#163 Oct 14, 2008
a disinterested party wrote:
As the superintendent of New Trier stated, what Jonah did was in essence no different than getting the key to the office and manually going through all the files. He went into the system again and again and again - please don't make excuses for him by blaming the teacher who may have trusted an "outstanding student" who was his SILC (student "assistant teacher") with his password or who inadvertently let him see it. Jonah screwed up, big time. No he should not go to jail, but yes, absolutely New Trier had a duty to report him to the Winnetka police.
I agree but he is still a person, with a life and an outstanding opportunity at college....don't you think you are a little out of line to be post this students name? Its not fare to him and particularly his family who went through hell
Alex

United States

#164 Jan 15, 2009
hahah, I am just discovering the comments for this story now. It is INSANE what went on, in this thread, and the community. The only people who should be fired, are that teacher for sharing a confidential password, and the head of the IT department for not setting up finger print scanners for teachers to log in with. Within this day and age, thumb print scanners cost little-to-nothing and come with most new corporate laptops. Dont blame the whitehat, blame the system. He discovered a weakness in the securities of NT, socially and technologically.

Also I went to New Trier and HATED it. I was in the 9th decile, and had an ACT score that put me in the top 3% of my grade. I also got the highest grade on the new trier placement exam at washburne, and i FAILED out. I used my act score to get into oakton, and earned an associates and transferring to a university, and I've never looked back. Three lousy years over there and not a diploma to show for it. Freaking ridiculous.

To those of you struggling over there in that meat grinder, there are alternatives, seek help!!!
Daniel Phillip Levine

Grayslake, IL

#165 Oct 20, 2009
Alright I don't know who the asshole parent was who left the post trying to say how evil of a thing it was that Jonah did, but I completely disagree with you and I believe that what happened to Jonah Greenthal after he did what he did was unconstitutional and a violation of his personal rights. First of all, he did not commit any "serious federal felony" by looking at people's grades on a computer. Of course he had no business looking up people's grades, but you cannot possibly argue that by doing so he did a serious crime. I mean it is not as though he broke into a federal building and looked up government records. All he did was simply LOOK AT A COMPUTER SCREEEN HE WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE. PERIOD. Do you really think that he paid that much attention to everybody's grade point average considering he looked at this computer screen for about three minutes? Screw you people saying he deserved what he got. Just by simply looking at student's grades is not a crime worthy of what happened to him, I mean come on- not only did the fucking administration of New Trier high school choose to EXPEL him from his senior year (unbelievably immoral) but they also thought that was not enough anyway- they had to call the cops on him and have him arrested, his name all over the news because he looked at a computer screen he was not supposed to. Unbelievable. Furthermore- it is more unethical that his parents, who cared enough about him to do whatever it took to keep their son out of cook county jail for 4 months, had to pay many thousands of dollars by hiring him a lawyer. Now that is almost a joke- the lawyer that defended him in front of a judge could not possibly have said anything to defend him other than what he could have said for himself. I also heard that the judge spent 3 straight minutes in court screaming at the kid at the top of his lungs for how horrible what he did was. Pardon me but fuck that judge, that judge was well aware that he had been expelled from high school and was unable to graduate with his senior class, he knew that he did not do a single thing other than merely look at the computer screen, so that judge quite frankly deserved to be slapped across the face. Furthermore, there was no reason for him to have been required to do however many hours of commnunity service that he was given, the fact he had been permanenetly kicked out of high school was obviously punishment enough. That judge, if he had any common decency- should have had the court refund the money that his parents had to pay for a lawyer. If that judge did not think that he had been punished enough by being thrown out of high school all together than it should have been the judge to go to jail. It is absolutely evil for an eighteen year old high school student to be required to pay a lawyer to simply keep him out of jail, that is evil and that judge was also extremely evil to only spare him from going to jail because he had a lawyer, rather than simply listening to his defense himself. I mean if Jonah had sold drugs on campus or beat someone up, he would not be taken to court and given a community service sentence. So I don't see how one can say that what he did was any worse than that. Of course if he had refused community service, keep in mind- he would be taken to the filthy, unsanitary cook county jail where for 4 months he could get anally raped by other inmates. Would that be acceptable? Yes I understand he did his community service but that is irrelevent, that judge should have acquited the whole charge against him once he knew he had already been expelled from school. And he should have refunded the money to Jonah's family they paid for a lawyer, that is unbelievably immoral and it is immoral of the superintendent to expel him on the grounds of what people's parents said about what he did was so horrible.
Danny Levine

Grayslake, IL

#166 Oct 20, 2009
Whoever you are, I think your completely wrong. Looking at people's grades does not justify expulsion from school, and community service on top of that.
Danny Levine

Grayslake, IL

#167 Oct 20, 2009
that judge that gave him community service deserves to be slapped across the face, as does the superintendent of the high school. That's all I am going to say.
Danny Levine

Grayslake, IL

#168 Oct 20, 2009
BTW I don't know why it says next to my name Deerfield Illinois, that is an error.
Seymore

United States

#169 Oct 21, 2009
Danny Levine wrote:
that judge that gave him community service deserves to be slapped across the face, as does the superintendent of the high school. That's all I am going to say.
You lied. That is not all you were going to say.
emo

Chicago, IL

#172 Friday Nov 11
V-room (o\_!_/o)
Party Hard In Lingerie

London, UK

#173 Saturday Nov 12
I worked for three years at a school in Malaysia in the late 1980s. It was a boys boarding school modeled after the old English schools, but with a Christian fundamentalist orientation (even though Malaysia is Muslim mainly). They, the teachers, caned the boys regularly there, even though the schools back in England had pretty much stopped caning by then. Most of the teachers were women. I worked there as a nurse mainly and taught a course on hygiene/sex ed. When a boy was caned there had to be a witness and I was often available. The teachers always caned bare, sometimes almost nude since the warm climate was such that the boys wore shorts and short sleeve shirts (with ties!) all of which was easily removed. Some of the teachers caned a lot more than others, and they did it right through the teens -- so I saw boys who were sexually mature being caned by adult women on a regular basis. When I think back on it I wonder what many of those women were thinking as they caned the boys. For my own part I was appalled at first when I arrived at the school. I grew up in Australia where caning was done to boys but it was dying out. Here is was being done with gusto and I was supposed to participate in it in a sense by being a witness. But after a while I realized I found it rather exciting. One or two of the teachers were my age and I spoke with them about it and learned they too found it exciting. My final conclusion, after three years of seeing many canings, was that several of these women (but curiously not the men) really got off on caning boys. I did not know what to make of it all, and was glad when my contract was up. I put it out of my mind for a few years, but later it crept back in and I began to remember how I felt when I saw a naked or almost naked boy caned like that. To this day some of those experiences can play back in my mind in detail. I also wonder what became of the boys. To the best of my knowledge they all graduated with a pretty good education and many went on to further schooling. I knew some of them accepted the discipline as necessary, most hated it and a few never seemed to object very much, so my guess is that some became spankos themselves because of it. I know I did. I do not live in Malaysia any more and have never been back, so I do not know what became of the school. As far as I know it is still in business. But it stands in my mind as a example of how universal corporal punishment is, and also how much of it I suspect is done for personal reasons of the teachers and even the larger society. I also think it is noteworthy that mostly it is done on boys, and mostly it is done by women.

As I said I realized later that I was a spanking enthusiast myself, but only of other beings spanked, and preferably males, yet I did not grow up realizing this. It was only my first work experience (I was 22 when I went to Malaysia) that by chance provided me the opportunity to see this side of me. I am sure there will be many who read this board and will think what I have said here is contrived or fantasy or something like that. Feel free to say whatever you want because it is unimportant to me. I do however think that those of us who are honest about our feelings and experiences might have worthwhile things to say, especially if they have feelings or experiences somewhat like my own. I have to believe there are many teachers and mothers and babysitters and so forth who have discovered spanking excitement that was sexual or quasi-sexual coming from doing that aspect of their jobs. It is the strangest thing in my case because I do in fact have a quite mild personality. No one who knows me would suspect that I have these feelings (and few know I had these experiences), but they are there, and powerful and sometimes very exciting still."

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