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FBI Arrests Student, Employee in University Hacking Case

A yearlong investigation into a hack against Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University computers led federal authorities and police to an employee and student, who were allegedly using a program designed to capture administrator passwords.

(TNS) — A yearlong joint investigation between the FBI and the Daytona Beach Police Department's Advanced Technology and Cyber Crimes Unit has led to the arrest of an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University employee and a graduate student for allegedly hacking the university's computers.

Police arrested 27-year-old student Kevin Mark Scott and 34-year-old ERAU communications specialist Jeanette Blair Barott Thursday morning, a department press release says.

The school's online security systems immediately notified officials of an attempted security breach that was blocked on Nov. 7, 2017, ERAU spokeswoman Ginger Pinholster said. ERAU took aggressive steps to tighten online security while working closely with the FBI and police while they investigated the breach.

An inspection of the university's computer systems found no evidence that financial or personal information was exposed in the hack, Pinholster said.

Over the course of a year, Scott, a doctoral student in ERAU's electrical engineering program, used a program designed to record passwords to hack multiple administrator accounts at ERAU.

"Embry riddle's IT department entertains the absolute crap out of me," his call records say, according to the police report. "They seriously have accounts that have domain administrator rights (e.g. infinite power) that have a password of p@ssw0rd.... that hasn't changed in ten years."

Scott told agents he likes reading about hacking in his free time. He has been hacking since he was in high school and has interned at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for the past four summers and held secret clearance, the report says.

He also gave Barott access to passwords, which she used to make changes to the computer that weren't allowed, like installing an unauthorized web browser. Barrot has worked for ERAU for more than 10 years and is married to ERAU professor William Barott, Scott's dissertation adviser, the report says.

While she told Scott what he was doing was illegal, when he told her that he wanted to turn himself in, she advised him not to, instead asking Scott to cover his tracks, according to reports.

Jeanette Barrot told agents that the information Scott gave her was not sensitive and didn't benefit her financially.

Scott and Barott are being charged with computer fraud with damages of $5,000 or more. Both are in the the Volusia County Branch Jail on $10,000 bond.

©2018 The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.