Student gets merit award for school computer hack

Grade A for cracking

High school student Reid Ellison did exactly the opposite of what most students would do when he hacked into his school computer records - he marked his grades down.

The bright 15-year old changed his grades at Anzar High School in San Juan Bautista, California from a A to a D+.

However, Reid didn't get into trouble for his actions. Far from it.

The intrusion was sanctioned by his school as part of his coursework and his success in breaking into the school's systems earned him a perfect score in the unconventional project. Reid's task of hacking into the network was greatly simplified by the weak password the school used - Silvia, the name of the school's secretary.

This password has since been changed and, with the help of the teenager, the school is looking to bolster its security.

"I basically came up with three pages to improve the security of the network in general," Reid, who wants to study to be an engineer when he leaves school, told CNN.

Reid's teachers were pleased to note that Reid hasn't developed a taste for cracking computer systems and are doubtless grateful of the free penetration testing advice that the 15 year-old has given them.

"If he didn't have such high moral fibre, he could probably make a lot of money off his abilities," said Wayne Norton, Reid's adviser. ®

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