Blue Bell man ad­mits tam­per­ing with Gwynedd Mercy com­puter sys­tem

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Kait­lyn Foti kfoti@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @kait­lyn­foti on Twit­ter

NORRISTOWN >> A for­mer fac­ulty mem­ber of Gwynedd Mercy Univer­sity was given pro­ba­tion after ad­mit­ting to ha­rass­ment by hack­ing into the school’s in­tranet.

Ed­ward Michael Shaf­fer, 54, of the 200 block of Peb­ble Beach Place in Blue Bell, pleaded guilty to the mis­de­meanor ha­rass­ment charge Mon­day in Mont­gomery County Court, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. He was given a sen­tence of 60 days of pro­ba­tion.

Shaf­fer was charged with a num­ber of com­puter-re­lated crimes after univer­sity au­thor­i­ties dis­cov­ered that sec­tions of the school’s Black­board site, through which stu­dents look at classes and ac­cess as­sign­ments and in­for­ma­tion from teach­ers, had been tam­pered with, ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint.

Shaf­fer had been hired by the univer­sity to teach a finance course, the com­plaint said. He was not asked to re­turn to teach the course dur­ing the sum­mer of 2014. Another fac­ulty mem­ber then dis­cov­ered that the course had been deleted from the on­line sys­tem. Stu­dents could not ac­cess their own work or grades from the course.

In ad­di­tion, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said in the com­plaint that other changes had been made to the sys­tem, in­clud­ing mak­ing the mas­ter course guide “un­us­able” and chang­ing nav­i­ga­tion but­tons on the site to “ran­dom, un­read­able gib­ber­ish of key­strokes.”

A sys­tem ad­min­is­tra­tor de­ter­mined that Shaf­fer had not had his ac­cess to Black­board re­voked, and that it was his lo­gin in­for­ma­tion that was used to ac­cess the in­for­ma­tion, the com­plaint said.

Shaf­fer pleaded guilty in front of Judge Gar­rett D. Page in a plea agree­ment, court doc­u­ments state. Ad­di­tional charges of un­law­ful use of a com­puter, dis­rup­tion of ser­vice, com­puter theft and com­puter tres­pass­ing were dis­missed. Shaf­fer was or­dered to have no con­tact with univer­sity fac­ulty through so­cial me­dia.

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