Students gain access to private accounts, delete files

The Ames High District AUP, or Acceptable Use Policy, is something every student in the district signs at the beginning of the year if they plan on using the school computers. Recently, one of the clauses in the AUP was broken by a group of Ames High students. That clause states that students should “refrain from any illegal and improper intrusions into the accounts of others.” This group of students, who shall go unnamed for disciplinary reasons, found a way to access a program called “Remote Desktop” from the Student/Student account. This gave them access into numerous student accounts. “We had to remove the local [Student/Student] accounts so they couldn’t get in, but hopefully, those will come back,” librarian David Lunaburg said. The students were able to get into students’ personal accounts because every individual computer, except teacher machines, has the Student/Student local account enabled on it. This access that the group of students had attained first started out as relatively harmless. At the beginning, they were just using their newfound access to share the same desktop. This is similar to connecting two mouses to the same keyboard and playing tug o’ war with the cursor. However, the group of students started to share the desktop with other students who did not want to have their desktop become public. “Things started getting really bad when they started sharing screens and deleting files from other students accounts,” Lunaburg said. There were no actual programming or coding skills that were involved in the intrusion into the Student/Student account. It was nothing like the Hollywood influenced idea of a computer whiz seated in front of an array of monitors furiously typing away while a line of green code scrolls before him. In this intrusion, the group of students used school computers in the well lit high school computer labs, except for one middle schooler that was also involved in the incident. “A simple Google search would give anybody basic instructions on how to do that,” Lunaburg said. The removal of the Student/Student accounts has affected some classes. The movie editing program iMovie requires the use of the Student/Student account to save changes to edits. While the school plans to bring the Student/Student accounts back, no definite timetable has been set. The Student/Student accounts will remain offline until the librarians and the IT department can come up with a fix that closes the loophole in the system.