Mrs. P… There is a problem with your Son…

by Natalie P.

October 19, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting, The Heartless Bitch Way | 6 Comments

Once upon a time… when my ex-husband and I were still speaking… he called and opened with this message,

“I have bad news, and I have bad news. Which do you want first?”

 “Hey, well, given those options, I’ll take the Bad News.”

“Your youngest needs braces.”

“Oh geeze. and the OTHER bad news?”

“Your eldest got kicked out of computer class for hacking.”

“He DID? I’m so PROUD!”

“Do NOT give him that message!”

“Put him on the phone.”

Son: “Hi Mom…”

“So what happened in computer class?”

“It’s really silly, actually. I was on one of the class computers, just browsing around and I found I could get to the root of the network drive.  The system is supposed to restrict you to your own personal “C:” drive, so this was interesting.’

“uh huh.”

“So I browsed around on the network for a bit and then I figured, Hey, I’m probably not supposed to be here, so I backed out and tried to cover up where I had been, but I guess I didn’t do a very good job… because somehow the computer teacher figured out where I had browsed, and now I’m suspended for class for the rest of the term.”

“How will this affect your grade?”

“It’s no big deal, there’s only 2 weeks left, and any assignments I can do on our home system.”

“You know, N, when you find a security flaw in a system, you are supposed to notify the appropriate authorities immediately.”

(To which my then-bf shouted in the background, “NO. NO. NO. First, yhou build a BACK DOOR, THEN you notify the authorities.”)

“K, SHUT UP. You are not helping.  Where was I?…. Oh yes. Notifing the authorities…”

Now you have to understand that what he did was purely accidental -it wasn’t even as a result of direct hacking.  For example the youngest son said, upon hearing of his older brother’s troubles, “Him? Hack? Oh PUHLeeze!  I have all the teacher’s passwords.”

And my response:  “I don’t want to know! Lalalalalalala” (fingers in ears)

Number 1 son and I talked a bit more about the subject and then I closed with this question:

“So What have you learned form this experience?”

“Cover my tracks better”

“Good boy!”

 Just so the bulk of you don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t condone unethical hacking, however, if a school computer system is so BADLY configured that an unskilled student can breach security, well HELL, they deserve what they get. He didn’t do anything malicious.  They got off easy.  It’s like darwinian evolution. Get your shit together and realize your students are probably smarter than you.  Make sure your systems can survive the onslaught.  And for heaven’s sake, if they actually take an interest in how things work, nurture it – don’t punish them for being curious!

Ironically, I stumbled upon this cartoon this week at XKCD.com (love his twisted sense of humor!), and it reminded me of the whole situation. The “mother” in this cartoon is a quintessential Heartless Bitch. I Love her.  (For you non-geeks, give up, go home. You won’t get it. Stop reading here.).

 Yep. Little Bobby Tables...

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6 comments so far
  1. "gunner" October 20, 2007 2:55 am

    “remember the 11th commandment and keep it wholly”.

    “thou shalt not get caught”.
    “gunner”

  2. Kimberly October 20, 2007 12:32 pm

    Ah yes, when are teachers AND systems administrators going to realize that kids these days are computer-literate and will most likely want to see just how far they can go? Hell, a movie about this very thing came out, what, OVER twenty years ago, War Games. I say kudos to your son for being curious and “systematic” with his computer skills. My son has been on a computer since the tender age of two. He is now is second grade and the computer lab at his school “bores him” so he says. Bahahahahaha!

  3. Tinlok October 21, 2007 5:37 am

    Bwahahaha, nice work your son’s done there. Reminds me of a little something I did ;)

  4. Hyperion October 25, 2007 10:39 am

    Unfortunately, telling an administrator (regardless of whether or not you niched yourself a back door) can result in just as much punishment as simply exploring and trying not to leave a footprint. I was brought under judicial review at my old college for notifying the admins that there was a dummy account on the shared drives that gave full access to everyone’s folder and that they had a guest account enabled on their webserver. Some people don’t like their mistakes being exposed, period.

  5. Susan Risdal November 15, 2007 10:15 pm

    Very well done on not killing anyone at the school. My son was suspended from 3rd grade and I had to take off of work to get him back in. His crime? Asking a student teacher how to multiply negative numbers. In class. In front of the principal (who suspended him). I had to verify this twice because I couldn’t believe it and thought I missed something. He embarrassed the student teacher because she didn’t know the answer.

  6. Mercurial Georgia December 7, 2007 6:15 pm

    Ah! My brain, it hurts! Thank goodness your kids had parents to aid them against the stupidity of the system eh?

    Reminds me of the old Mad Mag parody I’ve recently read, they can believe that the world of Harry Potter had Dementors that suck out every happy thought and will to live that you have, but they can’t believe that the Dementors aren’t the wards at schools…


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