Republican aide fired for trying to hire hackers to raise his GPA

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Todd J. Shriber has been fired as the communications director for U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), after it was disclosed that he attempted to hire people associated with the website attrition.org to hack into his former university, Texas Christian University, to have his GPA grades raised. Once his superiors learned of the scandal, he was immediately fired. "He just wasn't exhibiting the kind of veracity that we need and demand out of our employees," said Erik Iverson, Rehberg's chief of staff.

Shriber's opening email shows considerable naivety, assuming the attrition security site is run by hackers he can employ.

Cquote1.svg I came across Attrition.org for the first time. I enjoyed the site though I am not an expert with computers. That brings me to my next point: I need to urgently make contact with a hacker that would be interested in doing a one-time job for me. The pay would be good. I'm not sure what exactly the job would entail with respect to computer jargon, but I can go into rough detail upon making contact with a candidate. Thanks for your help. Cquote2.svg

A brief exchange of email messages confirms that Shriber is completely unaware that not all hackers will perform illegal acts, on August 9 he said in email to the "security curmudgeon" of Attrition, "OK here it is: I need an adjustment to my college GPA. Is this an absurd request?". The response leads Schriber into believing that he has found someone to carry out the job for him. Security Curmudgeon warns Shriber that he is soliciting the commission of a federal offense, and requests personally identifying information that would be required for the break in plus "picture of a squirrel or pigeon on your campus. One close-up, one with background that shows buildings, a sign, or something to indicate you are standing on the campus."

The exchange continues, up until Shriber reveals college details such as his student ID, username, and password. A second member of the attrition team, Lyger, coaxes date of birth and social security details from Shriber also telling him, "we still have to take unique precautions in order to be successful. Please mention this project to absolutely nobody, even your closest friends. The smallest leak could lead to compromise."

Smattering messages with comical jargon, Lyger convinces Shriber that they are in fact breaking into Texas Christian University for him. He tells them he will be unavailable for some time and will ready a list of changes he'd like made to his GPA. This is followed by Lyger deciding to end the game, "we are SO busted... i've already been called twice by my isp asking about unusual activity,...stuff that finally got me access all goes back to your login sorry". Lyger advises Shrieber to "duck and run", telling him never to visit the attrition.org site again. The email messages were then published on the site.

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