A former University of Iowa student who flexed his hacker skills in order to obtain copies of tests and change grades for himself and his friends could face up to two decades in prison after his scheme was uncovered by the FBI.
Tyler Graves, 22, faces charges of intentionally accessing a computer without authorization to obtain information and knowingly transmitting a computer program to cause damage, both of which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, the Press-Citizen reported.
According to the FBI, which began investigating in January when the university discovered that hundreds of faculty, staff, and students had been affected by a cyber intrusion and had their school ID and passwords stolen, Graves planted keyloggers on numerous computers across campus.
These devices allowed Graves to record everything that his professors typed, which then allowed him to gain access to the usernames and passwords they used to log in to grading and email systems. Once in, Graves allegedly snatched up tests and quizzes ahead of time and directly changed grades on tests, quizzes, and other assignments.
Graves was arrested on Tuesday in Denver and had his initial court appearance in Iowa on Thursday. Court records reveal that at least two other students had their homes and electronic devices searched as part of the investigation, but so far only Graves has been charged.
The university, which spent $68,000 improving cybersecurity measures and directed campus officers to investigate as a result of the breach, has warned that any other students involved in the scheme will face expulsion or suspension.
The FBI contends that Graves managed to remain incognito between March 2015 and December 2016, when an instructor finally noticed that Graves’s grade had changed without her consent.
Now, students have come forward to claim that Graves had handed out copies of at least twelve exams before they took place. One student claimed that they only accepted the help because “he/she knew Graves was providing copies to other students and did not want the grading curve to negatively impact his/her scores.”