Singapore

Asean scholar at SMU jailed for hacking into prof’s account

An Asean scholarship holder at Singapore Management University (SMU) hacked into his professor's computer account and changed his and others' examination grades.

Tran Gia Hung, 22, a first-year business management student, altered his "Final Examination" mark from D+ to B, and his "Final Adjusted Grade" from B to A-. He also raised grades for seven students and lowered them for two.

The Vietnamese national denied accessing Dr Rajah Kumar's account and committing the offences when he was interviewed by SMU on April 28 last year and claimed he had been framed.

The court heard Hung managed to get Dr Kumar's password by watching the professor typing slowly, enabling him to guess the keystrokes.

Hung was jailed for 16 weeks yesterday after admitting to 10 charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, and one under the Penal Code for causing evidence of his accessing of the computer server of SMU to be erased from his laptop.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo said Dr Kumar uploaded his students' grades for two modules - Technology and World Change and Business Government and Society - into the e-Learn system on April 25 last year.

While at home that evening, he noticed differences to the grades. He reported the matter to SMU and the grades for the modules were held back.

When he was confronted three days later, Hung denied accessing Dr Kumar's account despite the fact that SMU's investigation traced the illegal log-ins to his MacBook.

He claimed he had been framed and was given a chance to explain the next day.

But that evening, he sent an e-mail to SMU reiterating his denial and again said he was framed. Hung also referred to a previous hacking case involving Russian SMU postgrad student Georgy Kotsaga, who used a keylogger to access his professors' accounts to delete his exam scripts and those of 18 classmates.

The next day, Hung found an IT shop to erase the data on his MacBook.

SMU lodged a police report on May 4 that year.

DPP Khoo said police investigations showed there were seven unauthorised log-ins to Dr Kumar's computer over three days in March last year.

These were traced to Hung, who was also caught on security footage using the MacBook with the device's address.

Hung was at home on April 25 last year when he accessed Dr Kumar's account and changed the students' grades.

Investigations showed that 30 unauthorised amendments were made to 10 students' grades across two modules.

Hung's lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh, told District Judge Soh Tze Bian that his client committed the offences in "sheer desperation" as he was warned he would lose his scholarship.

DPP Khoo had sought at least four months' jail. He added that Hung was a "belligerent, unremorseful and uncooperative individual".

courtSingapore Management Universityhacking