Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why The Swat Team Raided My House!

My name is Justin and I am currently a Senior in High School. I have been accepted and plan on attending Florida State University next year.

But, here is the problem; on December 8th, 2006 all my plans for the future have been interfered with. Picture this, I am in my third period class on this day, I receive a text message from my mother saying, "Why are the cops at our house?" Suddenly, I try to think about anything I have ever done wrong. But, you know what, I couldn't think of anything! I received one more message from my mom that day; it said, "the lawyer says not to talk to the police." The rest of my school day was spent wondering how much trouble I have gotten myself in to.

My trip home from school I kept thinking, "I really have to go to the bathroom, I hope they will let me go before they arrest me!" Oddly enough, the police were not there. Even worse though, my mom was there and about to cry after I walked in. She just said one thing, "Justin, they took everything. What did you do?" I asked her to tell me what happened because really, I had no idea what was going on at this point.

My Mom's Story... "I got a call from the neighbors while I was at work, they told me to come home quick before the cops at our house beat down the door. I came home as soon as possible only to find eight police vehicles and a swat car in front of the house. Dozens of armed police officers were surrounding the house. I let them in without any trouble because they had a search warrant to confiscate anything computer related. The cops spent at least three hours in the house searching everywhere. They took so much!"

I looked at the search warrant and the list of everything confiscated. They took over $20,000 in computers, Palm Pilots, CDs/ DVDs, and pretty much anything else with a hard drive. The search warrant also explained that someone from our household illegally accessed an Orange County Public School computer system. It was that moment that I knew exactly what I did.

What I Did... I am in Web Design class at school and the teacher is so impressed with my Web Designing skills that she always had me doing different things for the school website. So in turn, I know the password to log into the school website and make changes (through FTP). Now, here is where this all comes in to play... Several months ago my High School, Winter Park High School, played our biggest rivals, Edgewater High School in a football game. They beat us at our homecoming game 35-14. I was at home the night after the game and noticed that the school website was updated to say, "Winter Park defeated by Edgewater". I thought it would be funny to see the reaction of this football player in my Web Design class if the website were to say something different. So, I changed it from "Winter Park defeated..." to, "Winter Park CRUSHED by Edgewater 35-14!"

I got a real big kick out of it the next day! But, little did I know, the OCPS system administrators were alerted of the change. The next two months were dedicated to locating where the change was made from. Which leads me to where I am today, being charged with two felony counts, illegally accessing OCPS networks and illegally transferring data to an OCPS network. Along with that, they are going to keep my stuff for three to six months to investigate!

I sure hope this doesn't interfere with me going to FSU next year! That's right everyone, my future at FSU could be jeopardized because the Orlando Police Department sent the swat team to my house in response to my changing of the word "defeated" to "CRUSHED" on the school website.

*CHECK MY MOST RECENT BLOG FOR AN UPDATE* (12/22/06)

111 comments:

Bob said...

Call the SWAT team out again! Some hax0r has put ugly music and graphics on the page!

http://www.wphs.ocps.net/

Justin said...

You know what's kind of strange... My Web Design teacher asked me if I would redesign the school website just a few days after the whole thing went down.

Ryan said...

Wow, I'm glad my high school had a better sense of humor. As a senior prank a bunch of kids stole the campus security guard's golf cart (he had it coming) and placed it on the hillside adjacent to the school. I came in to school at 7:30AM that morning and noticed the misplaced golfcart, snapped a picture and promptly placed it on the front page of the school website with a caption, "Got Cart?" I was in the same situation as you with the web design class, I had permission to update and passwords. Little did I know at 8AM just after I finished my changes to the front page the webdesign teacher started presenting our progress on the school website to the entire faculty, including the security guard who had parked his golfcart just outside the meeting earlier that morning. I'm told the faculty started laughing hysterically the security guard left the meeting red in the face.
Nothing ever became of it because it was harmless and in good fun. I don't see how they have a case against you seeing as they released the login credentials to you and gave you authorization to update the website. IMHO any school that pursues felony charges against a student for changing defeats to CRUSHED needs to reevaluate their mission/objectives. I wouldn't be concerned about not getting into FSU thats the least of your worries if they pursue. I'd be concerned about being convicted of a felony, not being able to vote and not being able to lock down a job because of a criminal record. Best of luck to you, hopefully your school district will hop on the clue train before they take this any further. My guess is they will drop the case or settle quickly on community service to avoid the negative publicity.

Jason said...

wow, that sucks. Good luck on getting everything resolved. The school is WAY over reacting.

Jake said...

Yeah... that sucks.

You broke the law. This seems cut and dried to my armchair legal expert's view; you were not authorized to make any changes. Basically, you accessed the school's networks without permission and made an unauthorized change. You tried to pull a 'harmless prank', and got busted. Take full note that you were stupid in this situation, and learn from your damn mistake. Don't get self-righteous, or incensed, and blame the justice system for this; this was your fault. You were not coerced, you made a bad decision. It happens. That being said, I do think that, while they are well within their rights to confiscate your equipment, this situation is a bit extreme. The fact is the law doesn't make a distinction between 'harmless' pranks and malicious changes, for good reason.

Either way, here is to hoping that you get off with a slap on the wrist and your equipment returned.

Good luck.

Brian said...

Front page of Digg, oh my.

I sure hope the traffic doesn't lead to a DDoS...

Bruno Serge said...

" Jake said...
You broke the law. This seems cut and dried to my armchair legal expert's view; you were not authorized to make any changes."

Hey Jake, Shut the hell up you fascist prick. How's that for illegal? oooh verbal violence that's a felony.
Asshole

Paul Williams said...

@Jake
...he got the password from an administrator. Are you stupid?

Josh said...

Ummm... That whole dont talk to the police without talking to a lawyer thing also includes dont publish a artical about it without talking to a lawyer. If ya did then wow. This blog is a Prrof you did wrong. Not saying that it was a over reaction on their part. BUT you just wrote down on a website the story when if this is all real they will look i am sure.

Rub3X said...

You'll be lucky to get it back anytime soon. My experience with the FBI is that well...they keep it for as long as they want. Good luck, and proxy up!

Jake said...

Nice example of ad hominem Bruno. A delightfully mature response, to be sure. Last time I checked, typed words were not considered 'verbal violence.' It's printed, so it could be considered libel. Also, you are completely right, that I am both a fascist and a prick, because, on a thrice-damned Internet blog by a teenager, I exposed my belief that, my god, a kid made a mistake. He broke the law; my saying so does not make me a fascist. Frack, do you even know what a fascist is? Educate yourself.

And Paul... you call me stupid? So quick to judge.. yes, he had the password for the system admin; for the purposes of making the changes the admin asked for. NOT for changing the word on the page that he admitted to. Hence, the fact it was an UNAUTHORIZED access. I hope by capitalizing those words, you gain a further insight to the part of the article you probably just skimmed through. Being given access to a network for a specific task does NOT entitle one to free access on that network.

You people need to grow up, and look at this situation from both sides. Be objective. Last time I checked, there were two sides to this argument.

James said...

Actually, it's not illegal. As the passwords were provided to you to log into the server at some part, you were, in truth, a person with a house key.

The problem herein, becomes whether or not your actions were malicious. This comes down to the perception by whoever is listening, and whether they want you to be the exception or the example. In all truth, you were doing something malicious. Even if you would have done something like edit an incorrect spelling, you were intentional altering a digital document without prior acceptance or allowance to perform the act on that particular document.

Now, did the school system over-react??? You're damn right they did!!! Are you kidding me? Simply for changing the headline? Good god! And, were they allowed to over-react? You're damn right they are. That is the whole problem in the end for you. you aren't dealing with a group that puts you on a level stance within the law. You are dealing with a public school system.

Good luck though. You have an uphill battle, but it also starts with not being defensive. Be very forthcoming and state very clearly your apology, as well as your blame. Hopefully, all things will work out for you, and your acceptance and forthcoming attendance at your university will not be in danger.

Jaymes said...

Wow... your whole school needs to learn to code a page... thats just pathetic... nice compression you use for all of the pictures... i mean what are you using to compress them? Its in 256 color and the "Galleries" say the pictures are 4 megs but they are small and look like ass. gg's web masters

Drew said...

Heheh, way to troll Digg. It didn't take too long for everyone to figure out that your story is completely made up.

Jake said...

You raise an excellent point James.
"In all truth, you were doing something malicious. Even if you would have done something like edit an incorrect spelling, you were intentional altering a digital document without prior acceptance or allowance to perform the act on that particular document."
But the bit about the house-key, while reassuring, is ultimately false. In all actuality, his being given the codes at a prior occasion will work for him; he did not have to coerce the system or otherwise 'hack' it to get that info.

As I said before, he broke the law, pretty much in the clear; he admits to much.

I am not sure the school over reacted, however. From his article, it appears the school had a several month long investigation into this; more than likely, it started with them thinking it was a member of Edgewater illegally gaining access to their system. Legally, they had to involve the police, and it was the POLICE, not the SCHOOL, that sent the swat team in. And, as a resident of Orlando, I can admit that the OPD has been a "tad" bit heavy handed at time. Again, all this drama was completely above-board; the law in these situations are very clear on what to do. Federal search-and-seizures are quick, brutal, and comprehensive. He committed two felonies.

He's still a kid, so again, here is to hoping he gets off lightly. Sadly, I have no faith in the Orange county justice system.
Listen to James. Be apologetic, open, and honest. You did not know you were committing a crime. While ignorance doesn't make you innocent, it will help your case with a judge or jury.

Best of Luck,
Jake

jkfan87 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan200 said...

The first 'felony' will be thrown out of court as you were given the capability and the permission to access the web pages but were not asked to change anything. Personally I would make sure I had not signed anything saying that you would not 'abuse' the access given to you. Without a written contract it is your word against theirs and the fact they gave you the ability to change the content does not look good if they were to prosecute.

Hopefully they will see sense and realise what you did was completely harmless and would hardly be deserving of detention, let alone a SWAT team. If I were them I would not even attempt to press charges for fear of bad press, that and I don't like to look stupid in front of the whole world ;)

jkfan87 said...

Kid...you do realize that if you are lying, or even exaggerating even one part of this stry, you can be sued for libel, right? Do you really want to go to colelge with a huge debt?

And if you are not lying...how about providing even the tiniest shred of PROOF.

webmaster said...

May not seem like a big deal to you, but gaining access to a system bought with federal or state funds without permission is a pretty big thing. Not only that, because of the Privacy Act they HAVE to check for any state/federal employee information you may have accessed (whether or not you had that level of access to the network). Before you start claiming you are pretty good at web design, make sure you have at least a basic understanding of how designers work. As a sys admin for a government network they are under contract to launch an investigation for any level of unauthorized access. This is all regulated by various federal and state agencies and completely out of the hands of everyone at the school. Some networks are even set-up to report entries automatically to the FBI's IC3 team. Your own ignorance is what brought these troubles on you. Thank god it wasn't any worse.

jkfan87 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jkfan87 said...

james...
jkfan87 said...
dan..wrong...IF you are given permission to access something at specific times with specific permission, you cannot access it whenever you want. It is EXACTLY the same crime as hacking into it.

For example. Your neighbor goes away for a week and asks you to go and take the mail in on Tuesdan and Thursday, but nothing else. You decide to use the key to watch their new plasma TV while theyare gone.

Guess what? If they catch you and want to, they can get your arrested. And also guess what? Even with the key, you will get chraged with BREAKING AND ENTERING. As well as all the standard things.

Giving soeone permission to access the web page certian times does not extend that permission to whenrever.


And kid...nice to show you ARE lying by removing any comment that questions you.

Max said...

Arrrgh! How amazingly horrible! We have become, as a people, so pathetic. If we step back from the illegal aspect of this event and look at it from a human perspective you get a totally different result.

Here is what should have happened:

1. The school realizes that they have a security breach and contact the police.
2. The police to do a little poking around and figure out that it was not a terrorist but a kid at their own high school.
3. The child (young adult) is brought into the principals office and given a sound talking to. Maybe he even gets some detention.
4. The police go to the parents and drive the point home with them. This is actually overkill but why not.

Thats it. Why have we become a nation of frightened nancy girls?

staulkor said...

Oh man, now that it is on the frontpage of digg, you can say goodbye to your school's website!

webmaster said...

jkfan87 - Exactly. This is why I am against giving kids these responsibilities in school, they are never taught the basic rules that govern what they are dealing with.

Max said...

The whole point of giving a young adult this type of responsibility is that they will make mistakes. We hope that we can then teach them from those mistakes. These days though it seems we just punish them. Nice lesson.

jkfan87 said...

Gee....I'll play along and pretend that this isn't bullshit and tahat this little boy isn't about to get his ass sued for libel.

Why no follow up? If this was real and it was DEcebmer 6, you would have had AT LEAST one arraignment hearing by now. Yet you don't talk about it.

webmaster said...

Max - Can't be done that way. Read up on recent cases involving Privacy Act violations and government system security issues. Your way is how they were handling it, then it got out of control. Any IT guy thats worked in the government contract sector can attest to that.

Dan200 said...

"dan..wrong...IF you are given permission to access something at specific times with specific permission, you cannot access it whenever you want. It is EXACTLY the same crime as hacking into it."

I was assuming they had not specified any times in particular that he could access it , rather they had just allowed access. Hence the thing about a written contract.

Max said...

Again I think that it's just sad. The point of giving young adults responsibility is that they can learn from their mistakes. Now everyone is treated like an adult and thrown into the deep end of the pool.

If you can't ever make mistakes then the school system better be a hell of a lot better. I don't think I ever got 100% on everything I ever did.

webmaster said...

dan200 - sorry buddy, that would never hold up in court. More like them assigning him specific tasks was a contract that he could only access it for those tasks.

webmaster said...

hmmmm. Im looking on the local newspapers website http://www.orlandosentinel.com/, and so far not finding even a mention about this. Swat sent to a family home in a rural community and it doesnt make the paper?

Dan200 said...

dan200 - sorry buddy, that would never hold up in court. More like them assigning him specific tasks was a contract that he could only access it for those tasks.

Quite possibly, although I am sure things differ in the US. Here I doubt anything like this would happen (not on the same scale, at least) over such a trivial matter.

Jake said...

@webmaster - That doesn't surprise me; I live in Orlando, this kind of shit happens all the time.

Alex AKA Friki said...

It seems that the cops had not better things to do than rush a teen house.

Incredible

webmaster said...

dan - its only trivial because you havent been fighting an entire world of computer crime targeting you. US Gove systems are targeted more than ANY other single network set in the world combined. Some for identity theft, some for malicious reasons, some for the obvious. Kids brought down Ebay and Amazon in 2000, its not to be taken lightly anymore.

webmaster said...

How does digg have such a large Euro-Trash fan base?

webmaster said...

jake - When the sentinel is reporting on 1 student from that school getting into Stanford and another article about a student being popular on YouTube, you are telling me they dont have space for a SWAT raid of a suburban white boy's house? I doubt that.

Arta said...

Ok this is very strange, and way too stupid in my opinion. i have done some pranks to my school website too ( yea i had the password to that and also a key to our server room ) what is the big deal. and please oh please dont start with the whole "they are kids thing" that i get pissed. I think we should be able to have the passwords, and whats wrong here is not his "action" it is the "reaction" from the authorities. Why Search for 3 weeks and take him down, when you could have just suspended ( though i am very against it ) him in the first place by just knowing who has the password to the system. so now my question is .. its ok to pee on the principle's car ( yea yea ) and he should a criminal record for an alteration.
anyhow, I think you should put your creativity and knowledge and passion towards something "legal" ( that makes me laugh) .. make a yearbook CD with flash fro your school and dont worry about UNI .. that is a power not a downfall !!!
oh well I hate long comments .. but i also hate IDIOTS like JAKE .. or jkfan87 ..
W.E ..

Dan200 said...

"dan - its only trivial because you havent been fighting an entire world of computer crime targeting you. US Gove systems are targeted more than ANY other single network set in the world combined. Some for identity theft, some for malicious reasons, some for the obvious. Kids brought down Ebay and Amazon in 2000, its not to be taken lightly anymore."

One single word was changed, and had they done their jobs properly they would of known how he had access to the network and could have avoided a huge amount of time/cost in apprehending him. I would understand had he deleted the entire site or changed important things such as contact details but he didn't.

It was a gross overreaction on the authorities behalf regardless of how many 'attacks' there are considering what was actually done.

"How does digg have such a large Euro-Trash fan base?"

Euro-Trash, how dare you? :p

webmaster said...

dan200 - its not about what he did, its about determining what he saw/had access to and the level of access he has/has the potential to have. If he got access to protected information (ie social security numbers stored on a computer on the same network as the web server or in a file on the ftp server) then that is a huge problem. They have to be sure he doesnt have the info or the ability to get access again.

Jake said...

@webmaster - Slow news day... I stand corrected.

@arta - I love how you call me an idiot, when you yourself cannot use proper English. Here is the logical fallacy that you have ignored: What he did is against the law, as are most pranks. It is ILLEGAL.

I am sorry that long posts task your meager intellect to the point you cannot understand them.

@dan - One word or a thousand, it was still against the law. He still performed felonious actions. It is unfortunate, but he is hardly an innocent.

webmaster said...

jake.setPoints(jake.getPoints() + 5);

Greg said...

Dude. That so owns. Why doesn't this happen to me?!

TheDenominator said...

It seems to me that while Jake is correct in pointing out that the kid in question DID in fact commit two felonies, the school is more at fault than they're being blamed for.

The school's network administrator is in serious need of a network security course. There are plenty of methods by which one could be given access only when necessary and yet for some reason, despite the fact that things like this could pop up, the administrator has decided not to employ these. If the school was already investigating a cyber-crime incident, why was security not ramped up at that point, two months prior to this incident? Furthermore, why does this kid have the ADMINISTRATOR's password? Isn't sudo good enough for them?

While I understand the point of the prosecution, this seems to be a case of severe oversight in security and over-reaction in light of a breach that shouldn't have been able to happen. Now if the government would just start racking up mutli-billion dollar debts for the sake of our school system instead of doing so in the name of a war on an intangible thing ("terror"), we might not run into cases like this so much.

jkfan87 said...

First of all, anyone posting comments to this as if this story was even REMOTELY true are extremely gullible.

Secondly it doesn't matter if he was given permission. Sorry Dan, but permission is not legally accepted to be everything unless specifically told otherwise. Permission is only what is SPECIFICALLY granted.

This is true of the internet, or access to homes, cars etc. To go back to the walking hte dog example...you CANNOT say "Your honor, they never SAID I couldn't raid their refrigerator, and watch their TV, and take a shower in their bathroom." You simply cannot do ANYTHING that the owners did not specifically tell you that you can. Seriously...don't try to debate things if you have no idea what you are talking about.

But again, Justin Aquilla is lying. This never happened, and he would be smart to delete this blog before it gets cached and before the police department find out about it and sues him.

Andrea said...

@jake,

> Take full note that you were stupid in this situation, and learn from your damn mistake. Don't get self-righteous, or incensed, and blame the justice system for this; this was your fault. You were not coerced, you made a bad decision. It happens.

It wasn't a stupid decision; it was a humorous, harmless prank. The only mistake was made by the pricks who didn't just laugh it off, including the school administrators, the judge, and the cops. Half-wits shouldn't be in charge of anything.

Jake said...

@Andrea
I love humor more than anything, but you have to realize that the message doesn't matter. He made an unauthorized change to a document on a network he was not a part of. The school (with the exception of the web design/IT guy who released the passcode, as thedenominator pointed out, he was a fucking moron)and the police are not half-wits; they are enforcing the law to the degree they are supposed to. They are not cutting him any slack so far, but really, why should they?

@jkfan - What proof do you have that it isn't true?

Dan200 said...

"Secondly it doesn't matter if he was given permission. Sorry Dan, but permission is not legally accepted to be everything unless specifically told otherwise. Permission is only what is SPECIFICALLY granted."

Was he or was he not specifically granted access to the network?

IF there were set parameters to his access then it is against the law, but he has not stated any.

B said...

This is a wonderful made up story Justin. The local authority's do not have any knowledge of this encounter.

Stian said...

Whoa, dude... Tough luck. Hope you didn't have any warez on your computers. That can be a bitch in this situation.

Ben said...

That's truely hillarious. I'm sure they'll "see the light" when they realise quite how stupid it is.

Corey said...

Good luck Justin...don't let the man get you down. Let's see if the "Digg effect" helps you shine some light on the police and their heavy-handedness.
http://www.harddrivelife.com

Terence said...

I don't get it... Why didn't he go home after he found out his house was freaking invaded by swat? I'd say that's a pretty good reason to leave school

Frank said...

You were very lucky they did not kill you.

Today's amerikan government at all levels just wants to kill anyone and anything that does not comply with their orders.

From the feds in iraq to the feds at home, to the state and city government and yes to school officials it is kill, kill, kill.

Or at the very least, overkill.

It is all they know now.

I guess they could not figure out an excuse to do it at the time.

But they might, eventually.

You are a symbol of what we all face in the future.

Killians said...

Hey...

Don't you just love the law?? I don't understand why they would need the swat team for that. Either there has to be more to it, or your town is just gay as hell.


It is so stupid that they waste their time on someone like you. There are rapists, killers, child porn freaks, drug addicts, drug dealers....so many other SERIOUS things to worry about. If I were a lawyer Id come fly over there and defend your case. Those people are stupid as hell.

Court said...

"Giving soeone permission to access the web page certian times does not extend that permission to whenrever."

You must be kidding. I won't debate the subtlety of the law in this respect, because I'd never defend laws - particularly in the digital realm - as being rational. But with respect to providing someone with access to make changes to a web site: it seems to me that it would be incumbent on the system administrators at least to pretend implement some security procedures if they want to claim security.

I think it boils down to the school being embarrassed they didn't keep better track of who might be making changes to their web site. If the system administrators were worth their salt, he would have had his own account, his own password, and restricted access. This way, when he logs in and makes changes, they know about it and can ask him directly without a "two month investigation."

Buffoons. And a kid's life shouldn't be ruined because they can't cough that up...

mike said...

Jake, nothing more needs to be said than "get a life." Prick.

Joshua J said...

Why don't we send him to prison for 10 years. After all he made a mistake.

And you morons who think that the law works perfectly will be happy.

And while yes, in this case I do understand the weight of what he did, but if anyone should get in trouble... its the person who gave a STUDENT the password, especially without giving them the rundown on things. If that person wasn't Punished and/or fired, then I don't know what to say.

So much for holding those who know what they are doing accountable, lets just blame those who don't understand what they are doing.

Freya 88 said...

Just a note: For those of you who made jabs about this story's lack of knowledge towards the workings of the justice system, that's because there are no comments about the writer's opinion towards the response from the police and the school. All he said is it sucks and hopes it doesn't interfere with his future plans, which it mostly likely will by the way.

labgeek said...

dude, good fairy tale - cause you know this story is str8 BS.

SorenK said...

The story was funny in the first place. But that 'Jake' person just makes it funnier.

"He still performed felonious actions." Listen to yourself you jerk, Jake, you sound like a pompous twit. I shudder to think that one day you might actually breed.

first said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
first said...

The lawyer said, "don't talk to the police.", huh.

And you wonder why your 20K in computer equipment was seized?

Here's a tip: lawyers are not working in your best interests. They are working to maximize the amount of money they can bill you.

They will "advise" you to do the very things that will cause you to entangle yourself fully in the legal system (for instance, refuse to cooperate with a simple investigation of a high school prank), string you along for six months or more (billing you all the while), then "advise" you to make a deal with the prosecutor before trial.

I repeat: defense attorneys maximize the amount of time they can bill you for by "advising" you to do the very things that will get you entangled in the legal system for months or years, and by getting your property confiscated for the duration of an investigation (an investigation that you hamper by your refusal to cooperate).

If you had explained what you did to the police, the way you explained it to everyone who read your article, it would have blown over in a week.

Freya 88 said...

To First:

The author has made no mention of his opinions on what his lawyer has said. Only that his MOM sent HIM a text message saying: "The lawyer says not to talk to the police." Also, the reason he brings up the list of what was confiscated was to point out how he figured out what he did wrong.

Kurt said...

I go to WPHS and have weaver 6th period for webdesign. I heard her discussing this with one administrator and she does not seem at all upset about it. She was claiming she never gave you the FTP login.

Justin said...

Well you should feel right at home with the rest of the criminoles at fsu.

In all seriousness though, that sucks dude. You did break the law, but if this is your first offense, I doubt you will be fully convicted of the felony counts. But look on the bright side -- FSU lets just about anybody in these days.

Mathew said...

hey dude i work in edgewater at a software company here and i just read your hacking story on digg.com thats crazy dude, iv had similiar experiences....

Cliff said...

Somehow I knew this would be about WPHS before I even clicked the link.

Say hi to Mrs. Weaver for me.

Jason said...

password was given to him by the teacher... not necessarily an admin and not necessarily the person who should control such access.

Phil said...

Justin:

A few thoughts:

This blog entry as it current exists if a bad idea.

Technically you are guilty of a felony in a time where the system is particularly sensative to this kind of thing.

Your blog entry suggests your attitude about it is one of "What's the big deal?" This is a mistake. Does your attorney know you made this blog entry? If he's ok with it, I would fire him today and shop for someone better.

If I were your attorney I would recommend:

Immediately edit this blog entry, replacing the theme with that of a mea culpa. (Since it's too late to delete it.)

Make a heartfelt effort to change the way you think about the situation from what it currently is to one of "I f*cked up and I'm sorry." In court it's your job to be contrite, and it's your attorney's job to point out the minimal impacts of your actions.

Your attorney will, I'm sure, advise you to be contrite in court, but if I were the prosecutor I'd use this blog entry to demonstrate that that display was a fascade --

Good Luck

Chris said...

This is a sickening story if it is even true. A waste of government resources and a gross abuse of power.

Where is the victim in this "illegal" activity. Victimless crimes are not crimes.

The USA has way too many laws on the books and we seem to be enforcing even the most assinine of them.

These cops need to get some common sense ... Maybe if we as a people had more of it we wouldn't need all these inane quality of life laws ...

Ron said...

Guys pay attention to Jake, he's clearly an expert. I mean because he cares enough about arguments over the internets to use spell check and proper gramm0r must mean something!

Ender said...

In Florida, accessing a computer without permission is a third degree felony. Plain and simple. Changing one 1 to a 0 is another felony, plain and simple.

Nobody knows this, of course, because it isn't like they publish this kinda stuff. Florida has quite a few laws nobody knows about... Except the cops.

Touching a security guard is a felony. Touching your co-worker's computer without permission is also a felony (same thing that this guy did, basically...), as well as changing data. Living with your girlfriend and people finding out you sleep together is a misdemeanor.

Justin said...

Well I hope everything works out for you, and hopefully you can get your stuff back

bioit said...

I guess you know, that you say NO if your web design teacher asks you to redesign the school website...

Jon M. Holmes said...

A crime assumes harm was done in its commission. Where's the harm? You had permission to access, and your access wasn't in violation of anything unless you signed an access agreement that stated you would only access while on school property and only with the school's equipment. Either you frying our eggs with this story, or maybe you're not telling the entire story, or the local SWAT team is a group of overpaied public employees looking for something to do to justify their being paid.

dan said...

should've used TOR. you would've been fine.

Midian said...

here is a good analogy:

a janitor works in the museum that the "Mona Lisa" painting is stored in. he/she has permission to dust, mop, etc... so one day this person decides to paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa painting. The police then arrest the janitor.....

Just because you have the keys to the museum, it does not give you rights to do whatever you please.

One thing to consider is that with such a minor unauthorized change in the website, a security researcher, admin, etc... could have interpreted that as a sign that the network or server was hacked. With the high profile data leaks in todays educational institutions saturating the news, it is highly likely that a good amount of money was spent by the school trying to find out if any other machines had unauthorized access, etc...

Though a swat team was probably a little overboard, do not be surprised if formal charges are brought against you in the future. They probably do not know at this time that all you did was change the web page, which is likely why they took all of your equipment.

BTW, i work as a programmer in higher education, so i know the seriousness of a data breach, and what kinds of information a person can get from an .edu

Midian said...

revision to last post:

i see that you were formally charged, so strike the " do not be surprised if formal charges are brought against you in the future"

onu said...

The Mona Lisa is a priceless painting. We couldn't fix the mona lisa without significantly modifying the affected area. Whereas in this instance any jackass could s/crushed/defeated/ and all is right again.

These physical analogys for digital "crimes" are getting really tired.

Jerim79 said...

Even though they gave you the password to log in, that doesn't give you full rights to do whatever you want. I have access to the un/pw of the most important servers at work. That doesn't mean I can go in and do whatever I want. In the course of any job, you are given access to certain things necessary to complete your job. They trust you not to abuse that power.

I understand you see it as a harmless prank, but I don't think you were in the right. You had a direct supervisor who ordered all the changes you made. In this case, you made an unauthorized change.

This is just a life lesson we all learn as we grow up. Yeah, it seems embarrassing now, but in a year, it will be completely forgotten. That being said, I think they went overboard with the SWAT team. I don't know if they thought they were working with a world class hacker or just trying to scare whoever did it.

Greg said...

Fight the good fight, brother. Good luck with this!

Francisco said...

Good story, made me laugh and entertained me, congrats...it seems OCPS taught you how to use your writing skills very well. Too bad so many people actually believe it is real (and I have to ruin it for them).


I live 20-25 minutes from Winter Park (actually it is only a couple of miles but traffic is so god-awful). Winter Park's newspaper would be the Orlando Sentinel. Trust me when I tell you this: Orange County, Winter Park, and OCPS would not do this. Besides I am sure that the SWAT team was likely cracking down on all the murders in Orlando rather than raiding hackers' houses (YAY Orlando is now the most dangerous city in the country and the Guardian Angels are here). Besides I am not a expert but sending in the SWAT team for something like this (if it was real) sounds slightly illegal.

This story may be real but there wasn't any police or SWAT team involvement. In fact OCPS would not invest two months into trying to find someone that did this because the district is under budget strains and faces two school take-overs from the state because of F grades. Crime is high in many Orange County high schools and many of the schools are overloaded and a good amount of students are poor. I would also like to note that interned with the I.T. department in the county just to the north of Orange county (the top school district in the state with the most advanced I.T network in the Southeast for public schooling) and these guys would barely know how to trace an IP, so I doubt Orange's I.T. department would waste such resources on something evenly remotely has stupid as this.



On a side note, last year when I was still in high school, I was in the county just north of Orange (Seminole). Students at our school actually accessed another school's site and redirected it to ours and then that school (well students there) fought back and hacked our site. There was no police involvement, no SWAT teams sent out, and the administration only invested the time to secure the sites better, no investigation was held to trace the students.

So this story is busted, he may have hacked the site but there was no SWAT team or police sent to his house. If he did hack the site and the school found out he did it, it was because he ran his big mouth to students, not because the I.T. department or the police traced him.

Still an entertaining story though.

Justin said...

Fransico, your analysis of my story sounds well thought out. That is exactly what I have been thinking these past few weeks. "Why did they go through so much trouble?" My lawyer even laughed when I told him what happened. But, the thing is... It did happen. I don't know why, but it did.

Computer & Internet Help said...

Very sorry to here this.... but my exp with the fbi/atf/state an local police isnt that bad..

I had orderd come chem's off the internet to make some smoke bombs.. one freind of mine who is really a prick called and told the police... then I noticed my freinds car at the polie station... so My mom went over there to invegate... I didnt here any thing for a few hours... I came home from kmart to find her and a state bomb expert police person a local police offcer standing at my front porch... the asked me to come with them niceley and I went.. They question me for a hour or so and I even made a joke about the bald bomb squad guy... Then they came to my house and ask me to show them where the chems where.. I give them to them... they made me sign a paper and they left... There were nice... and thats all that happen. but yea the state firemarshel was there , atf , fbi i think , firedept cap i think state police , some other guy.. and the state police bomb dude... but ill say they were very nice... and i hope stuff works out for you

Aleem said...

Haha thats amazing man!
Im the web design expert for my school. Im located here over at Osceola county. I go to Poinciana High.. Thats classic dude, keep us imformed A+!

Francisco said...

Sorry budy, just don't believe it. But if you are in court for some reason, be sure to say hi to superintendent Blocker for me if you get a chance to meet him.

Aaron Kennedy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OUWxGuesser said...

Justin,

This story sounds strangely similar except instead of the entire police dept, I had the detectives come out. See, I was a bored kid during Spring Break figuring out where websites were hosted locally.

I logged onto my school district's ftp and was talking to a few other friends. At that moment, something amazing happened. I went to message my friend, but accidentally hit delete on the ftp program. A file was deleted. Imagine that... anonymous access had full rights on the server. Amazing.

Of course being 16, and in a school district that was pretty crappy (from everyone's perspective), I HAD to do something. At this point I'll realize that YES THIS WAS WRONG, but I wanted to pull a simple prank. I changed the cover graphic so the kids were yelling "They don't care about us". I made a backup directory and left the backups in there so it could be simply fixed.

Fast forward a week. Somehow it made front page of the newspaper. Oops. Later that week, every one of my friends got called down to the office. Of course I knew what was happening. The next day the detectives came and questioned me about the incident. I was upfront and told them yes it was me, it was simply a prank and there were backup files. They informed me that ok, they agree it wasn't a big deal, and it only took a few minutes for the web admin to fix (and stop anon. access). They wanted to take the computer, but my dad stated he needed it for work so they let it be.

The cops stated the didn't think it was a big deal... just a prank, but that charges would be up to the district. Of course, they wanted to crucify me so I was shocked to find out I now had a felony charge against myself.

Justin: Whether your story is real or not, here's the moral of the story. When it comes to law and court, they are ages behind when it comes to computer crimes. In many cases, the charges and possible penalties is way more severe than what was committed. In my case, I was forced to plea bargain and reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. I ended up with 2 years of probation, 120hr community service (which was helping the police with computer work btw), and $900 restitution to fix the damage done (BS but it's better than a felony).

The irony of the story comes years later when half of the IT dept. for the school district was fired, resigned, or under investigation by the FBI. You see, they were running an operation where they would buy new computer parts, sell them, then put cheaper parts in the district's computers. They also put spying applications on some of the school board's computers supposedly.

PS: I already have a BS and a MS in college. I'm now working on the doctorate degree. As long as you can get rid of the felony charges, you should be fine.

MaryMoo said...

This is insane!

Aaron said...

You changed something that wasn't yours to change.
You made the change without authorization from the people who are allowed to change the website.

Yeah--that's wrong. I don't give a crap if your sniveling ass spends a month in jail. Those are the consequences of your actions.

Cat said...

American police suck

Rodrigo said...

that is a waste of tax payers money, i can see the money going down a drain , what a waste

Siddhartha Gandhi said...

jake, just shut the hell up, you're being a jerk

the school system should give maybe a suspension at most...but criminal activity? I dont think so...

sometimes I wish I was famous so I could expose the corruption and speak out against all this corruption (and people would hear me)...

Adam said...

The way I see it, if the school's webmaster/media faculty gave you the login information and asked you to do updates, you were given permission to make changes to the site. It could be argued that you were only allowed to change the items specifically requested, but I really don't think any this will be a big deal... try to keep a positive attitude.

When I was in High School, I was President of the Computer Club, just a small group of geeks that hung out after school. It had it's rewards though - we got unlimited use of the library computers anytime we wanted (other students had time limits, and web-browsing only access, and it was supervised). We got to work on some of the administrators' computers, we helped wire up the classrooms for Ethernet. Plus I always got out of classes anytime my teachers needed their computer to be fixed.

On top of all of that, the two teachers who were in charge of the library computers and local networks asked me an some friends to test out the security programs after school. So, we all went to the library to see if we could hack our way past the security software on the computers. Needless to say, we were able to completely demolish the security software in about 10 minutes. We gave a full report of how we hacked through and what they needed to do to fix it!

All this to say - yes, what we did was against school policy, but the faculty asked us to do it, and being minors who spend every day at school doing what your teachers tell you to do, there's no way we would have gotten into trouble for 'following orders'.

No one at your school specifically gave you permission to make the change you did - but they did give you permission to make changes, and did not give you any specific restrictions. I'm sure things will work out ok for you.

Keep us all posted!

Nick said...

So, uh, I'm calling bullshit.

I go to a different local high school, and know several kids from my middle school who go to Winter Park High School. No one has any idea this even happened.

Not to mention, not a single report on any of our local TV stations...

See for yourselves...

http://www.wkmg.com
http://www.wesh.com
http://www.wftv.com

Why the hell hasn't this made the news?

Fake?

Robby said...

winter park in orlando, kind of ironic

Travis said...

Most likly fake. And if it took weeks to find out who edited the word, then they are idiots. The server should have a log of who accessed it. Find out when the file was modified and which IPs logged in, then they can find his ISP, and probobly get a warrent to get the ISP to give up the owner. They got the name and address, run it against the schools list of staff and students (wouldn't take that long), and find its the kid. Take him into the principals office, lecture him, revoke his access to the site and give him a detention (or at most suspention). That should not take weeks.

Frederick said...

"defense attorneys maximize the amount of time they can bill you for by "advising" you to do the very things that will get you entangled in the legal system for months or years"

Defense attorneys typically charge a flat fee in the $20-30K range. That's no incentive to create extra work.

Nothing's going to "entangle" you worse than running off at the mouth. There's a reason the police are required to warn you that *anything* you say can be used against you. It can.

Talk to a judge, talk to a former prosecuting attorney: they'll tell you to shut up and only make statements cleared by an attorney.

Matt Gilberg said...

Hey, I was just lurking some of Digg's old stories and saw this. Two years ago towards the end of my freshman year, i too hacked my schools webpage by changing the banner to read "Hacked! Freshmen '08" Luckily, I only recieved a 2 week suspension as well as a job offer/work study from my school's IT department.

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