Local News

Student charged in Panther Creek High hacking

Posted February 3, 2016 10:07 a.m. EST
Updated February 3, 2016 6:28 p.m. EST

— A Panther Creek High School student was arrested Wednesday in connection with a hack of the school's computer system last fall, police said.

Saivamsi Hanumanthu, 17, of Pilot Hill Drive in Morrisville, was charged with felony accessing government computers, felony breaking and entering and misdemeanor accessing government computers. He was released on a unsecured $15,000 bond to the custody of his parents.

Cary police began investigating unauthorized access to Panther Creek High's computers on Oct. 13 and later determined that the system had been hacked into several times and that student grades had been changed.

Wake County school officials discovered that an email sent from one Panther Creek High teacher to another a few days before the initial hacking contained keystroke-tracking malware, according to a search warrant in the case.

The affidavit police submitted to obtain the warrant to search Hanumanthu's home stated that he had been seen sneaking into the school office after school on Oct. 22 and was later confronted by a teacher in a locked classroom with what appeared to be a laptop computer.

Two weeks before that, according to the affidavit, the PowerSchool system, a state database that tracks student attendance and grades at the school, was hacked into on three separate occasions, and the grades and class ranks of six students were changed. A total of 90 grades were changed in the system, and half of them belonged to Hanumanthu, a senior who saw his class rank improve from 67th to seventh, the warrant states.

Police traced the hack to a computer at the Wake County's West Regional Library, on Louis Stephens Road, where Hanumanthu often volunteers, according to the warrant.