kwalker2 at gte.net kwalker2 at gte.net
Sat Mar 11 12:35:59 PST 2000

U.S. NEWS & WORLD Report offers "a glimpse of cyberwarfare" in their 3/13/00 issue. <http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/000313/cyberwar.htm> Then again, this same magazine also claims the NSA released a printer virus during the Gulf War. <http://kumite.com/myths/myths/myth016.htm> Tabloid journalism at its best, let me tell you. And speaking of supermarket tabloids: a story in the Weekly World News warns your PC may be possessed by a demon. <http://www.weeklyworldnews.com/stories/1745.html> As if we didn't have enough to worry about with viruses & hackers! Now we've got to keep the prince of cyberdarkness at bay. Pardon me while I sprinkle holy water on my mouse.

BEFORE: MIT claimed a hacker altered students' grades. Spokesman Ken Campbell told reporters the school would try to learn the hacker's motives and identify how he gained access to the system. AFTER: MIT admitted simple human error caused a grading snafu. Spokesman Ken Campbell told reporters "it's a lot more complicated to figure out a mistake than a violation." Final analysis: knee-jerk MIT officials were inaccurate about an inaccuracy.

Then again, a demonic mouse could explain MIT's latest scandal. School officials at first reflexively declared a hacker changed the grades of 22 students. According to a United Press Int'l newswire, "the Boston Globe [newspaper] said Thursday that officials have identified the hacker, but it was not immediately disclosed whether he or she was a student. The newspaper said the hacker was believed to be someone from outside the class... MIT spokesman Ken Campbell said the school is trying to determine the hacker's motive and means of access to the computer. Such tampering could result in expulsion if the hacker is a student, he said."

Today, however, the Boston Globe said MIT officials admitted "a teaching assistant's mistaken mouse click, not a computer hacker bent on tampering with test scores, altered the grades of 22 students in an MIT biology class... Apologizing before the 120 undergraduates in his cell biology course yesterday morning, professor Harvey Lodish said one of the class's six teaching assistants accidentally assigned students the wrong grades after incorrectly sorting them on a computer spreadsheet. Lodish, who last Thursday announced to the class that a cheating scandal had been uncovered... was sorry for accusing students of cheating."

Biology chair Robert Sauer acknowledged MIT's knee-jerk assumptions, saying " 'the lesson that I hope was learned here is that you have to move slow and be cautious in these kinds of cases... The initial interpretation was the wrong one. And that interpretation was shocking.' " The Boston Globe story added "recent headlines about hackers breaking into high-profile commercial Web sites such as Yahoo.com or breaching the Pentagon's vaunted electronic firewalls, [Sauer] said, likely predisposed Lodish and institute administrators into assuming the altered grades was just another case of hacking."

So! In the final analysis, MIT was inaccurate about an inaccuracy. Do I expect too much from a school with "Technology" in its name?


ahhh well i spread the grambo one!


-- ________________O~` Researcher/Writer Infowar.com `~O_____________

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