Police: Mom hacked system to change grades

July 19, 2012 at 10:34 AM
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NEW TRIPOLI, Pa., July 19 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania mother has been accused of hacking into a school's computer system to change her children's grades, officials said.

State police said Catherine Venusto, a former Northwestern Lehigh School District employee, used her understanding of the district's computer system and the superintendent's password to alter her children's grades, The (Allentown) Morning Call reported Wednesday.

Court records indicated her daughter went from a failing grade to a "medical exception" while her son's grade of 98 percent climbed a point to 99 percent.

State police detectives said Venusto, 45, admitted changing the grades and using the superintendent's passwords to access to district e-mails and personnel files. Venusto said she accessed the district's computer system after she had left her job as a secretary out of "curiosity and boredom."

Venusto was charged Wednesday with three counts each of unlawful use of a computer and computer trespassing, all third-degree felonies, The Morning Call said. She was released on $30,000 unsecured bail.

Officials said Venusto used the district superintendent's information from Aug. 23, 2010, to last February to access the district's human resources system. Authorities say she hacked into the district's e-mail system by using the passwords of the superintendent and nine other district employees.

The investigation began Feb. 24 when an assistant superintendent reported a former employee allegedly hacked into the district's computer system using the superintendent's log-in and password information.

"When she resigned, we took her out of the system," Northwestern Lehigh Superintendent Mary Ann Wright said. "Unfortunately she found her way around security protocol through unauthorized access to my information."

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