An eighth grade student in Florida was charged with a felony cybercrime Wednesday after changing his teacher’s desktop background.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, 14-year-old middle school student Domanik Green accessed the school’s network late last month shortly after obtaining an admin-level password.
In an attempted prank, Green changed the computer’s desktop wallpaper to a picture of two men kissing while a substitute filled in for his teacher.
Speaking with the Tampa Bay Times‘ Josh Solomon, Green, who had previously been suspended for three days for accessing the network, stated that the goal of the prank was to simply “annoy” a disliked teacher.
“I logged into a teacher’s computer who I didn’t like and tried putting inappropriate pictures onto his computer to annoy him,” Green said.
Green also revealed that multiple students regularly logged into admin-level accounts in order to communicate with fellow classmates through computer webcams during school hours.
“Other students also got in trouble at the time, he said. It was a well-known trick, Green said, because the password was easy to remember: a teacher’s last name,” the Times reports. “He said he discovered it by watching the teacher type it in.”
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, who charged the teen with an “offense against a computer system and unauthorized access,” argued that Green could have done something even worse.
“Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done,” Nocco said. “If information comes back to us and we get evidence (that other kids have done it), they’re going to face the same consequences.”
Aside from the felony charge, Green also received a 10-day suspension following the incident.
Eileen Foster, Green’s mother, said her son undoubtedly violated school policy but felt criminal charges went too far. Foster also questioned the school’s network security given the ability of several students to breach it.
Green has since been released from the Land O’Lakes Detention Center and may be permitted to attend a diversion program in lieu of incarceration if a judge approves.
The case not only raises questions on strict “zero tolerance” policies, but on the apparent lackluster security practices used to protect important educational data.