Hack To School: Education Exploits on the Dark Web

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September 13, 2016

Rachel is a member of the Customer Success Team at Terbium Labs. She splits her time between baking brownies, refilling her candy jar, and figuring out how laissez-faire economics applies to the dark web.

College students today are struggling to find the balance between social life, school, and sleep. Everyone is looking for a way to make their lives easier. With the growing pressures to succeed, students do crazy things to get out of tests, including the student who altered the website for the President of Sri Lanka to change a national exam date. While those examples are more extreme, students may seize the opportunity to hack into a school’s database to create problems in order to postpone a test or change a grade.

The dark web is more than happy to provide ample opportunities to relieve some of the pressure these students face. While we tend to think of the dark web as a home for “traditional” fraud, the exploits and services available aren’t limited to bank drops and payment processors. From hacking services to fake documents, the dark web is in no short supply of tools and tricks to ease the difficulties of academic life.

Hack Your Way to a Better Grade

Sneaking into the principal’s office to change a grade or erasing marks on your report card is a thing of the past. Now students can remotely change their grades for a small price.

Grading System Hack.png

On Valhalla, a dark web marketplace, a listing offering a tutorial on how to hack your school’s grading system is available for .024526 BTC (13.44 EUR or $15.07). This listing claims to teach the buyer how to access their university’s grading infrastructure and alter grades. Another tutorial is listed for an even lower price - just $9. Change you grades for the price of a burrito.

Steal Your Test

Long gone are the days of stealing a test from a teacher’s desk or filing cabinet. Cheating might cost more now, but the results are the same: going into an exam with the questions (and answers) in hand.

Exam Retrieval.png

A listing on Hansa, another dark web market, describes a two-part solution. The vendor first does a penetration test of the school’s system. If the pen test is successful, the vendor charges the buyer for the retrieval of university exam papers. This two-part listing scheme is clever: the vendor gets paid at each milestone, and the buyer is less likely to be ripped off in the case that the school’s system is more difficult to access.

Study Buddies

Whether looking for Adderall to stay up all night, or Xanax to decrease stress before an exam, purchasing drugs to increase performance is a common practice on college campuses. Now, rather than buying from a friend of a friend or a stranger in the library, students can purchase these medications from a reputable vendor on the dark web. By cutting out the middle man, buyers have access to purer and lower cost options than they would find on the street.

Adderall Listing.png Adderall Reviews.png

Adderall listings are mixed together with listings for speed and amphetamines. While both are stimulants, they can have different effects on the consumer. One listing for Adderall offers a bulk discount of $18 for 20 pills. The vendor received high reviews for her stealth and fast shipping times. The pressed pills listed are not pure Adderall, but are described as having the same effects. A Vendor called RXChemist is selling Xanax for $45 for 50 pill bars. The vendor did not have many reviews for the product, but still has a high trust ranking on the site.

Fake Student Documents

Student IDs are also available on the dark web. On AlphaBay, the most prolific dark web market still up and running, counterfeit documents are easy to come by. A vendor who goes by the alias Mike is offering a special deal on student IDs.

University ID.png

Buyers simply need to send their name, address, photo and signature. He describes the product as a way to get access to events, and special discounts on transportation or in specialty stores. Mike offers a buy one get one free special.

Discount Text Books

Despite popular belief, not all activities on the dark web are malicious. Some students don’t want to cheat their way to a better grade, they simply want to save some money. Here’s one example: you can buy a biology textbook for .004888 BTC ($3). The same version of this textbook is sells for $99 on the clear web.

Textbook Listing.png

None of these cheating methods are new, they have simply been updated and streamlined in the wake of new technology. These workarounds make students’ lives easier by giving them control over something previously out of their hands, whether grades, performance, or skyrocketing textbook prices. Or, if all else fails, they can just buy a diploma from the dark web.

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