Students at the University of Regina might want to check their marks.
The grades of some students are believed to have been hacked.
“The integrity of those grades is core to who we are, so we’re taking this matter extremely seriously,” Kim McKechney, University of Regina external relations associate vice president, said.
Grading irregularities were reported to university authorities in late August. Four classes in the faculty of engineering are now being investigated.
McKechney wouldn’t say if the investigation was triggered by a tip from a student or if it was a professor who noticed the grade changes.
Some students know that their grades were changed, but some don’t, McKechney said.
“The process of notifying students is ongoing. It’s part of the investigatory process,” he said.
Any student found guilty of changing a grade could face expulsion, McKechney said.
The university suffers from about 50,000 malware attacks a week, he added.
“Our IT systems are very robust. We’re certainly going to have these situations where we encounter vulnerabilities, but in this case because it’s being dealt with and we expect that the integrity of our grades will remain intact,” McKechney said.
U of R computer science professor David Gerhard says stealing a password is the easiest way in.
“We say that the weakest link in any security system is the human,” Gerhard said.
“Whenever there’s a system that involves a password or something like that, that kind of thing can be compromised if the people who are using the system don’t use good password hygiene.”
Gerhard said it’s unlikely a new back door that was previously unknown was discovered and used to change a few grades.
“More likely other damage would have been done if it was a larger hole in the security system,” he said.
Students’ Union president Jermain McKenzie said he hopes the university will take stiff consequences against any guilty students.
“I’m disturbed by it,” McKenzie said. “That’s really not fair for all of the thousands of students here who work extremely hard.”
“I’m shocked, I thought there would be more security measures in place,” Wil Norton, a software systems engineering student, said.
“It’s not fair, and it makes me sad honestly because I think if the students have the work ethic to take the time to hack into their prof’s computers, I think that same work ethic could just be used to do their work properly,” engineering student Jacob Sauer said.
“I’m concerned for the university’s reputation, especially if this becomes well-known across the country,” he added.
The hack impacted marks on classes held over the spring-summer semester.