A guy made £20,000 by hacking into a uni and selling exam answers to students

One second-year student paid him £6,500

A man made £20,000 by hacking into a uni and selling exam answers to students – but has now been jailed for 20 months after his exploits were discovered.

Hayder Aljayyash cracked the University of South Wales’ computer systems while studying for a master’s, and sold the papers for thousands. One second-year paid him £6,500.

Embedded system design student Aljayyash enlisted an accomplice, his housemate Noureldien Eltarki, to find students to buy the hacked answers, and paid him £300-£400 for every student he found.

The venture was only discovered when a lecturer realised students were regurgitating answers from his mark scheme. Maths lecturer Liam Harris even realised five students had copied spelling mistakes from his model papers.

By that time, Aljayyash had used staff log-in details to get into the university network nearly 700 times, using a keylogger in different classrooms to collect passwords.

The University of South Wales estimated that the crimes cost it over £100,000. It set up a “war room” to investigate the hack and had to pay for new security measures.

After the lecturer became suspicious, the university went through 140 million log records and eventually detected an IP address linked to the house where Aljayyash and Eltarki were living.

Police arrested Aljayyash on 30th May 2019, and seized £17,000 in cash, USB sticks and a laptop which held files matching those downloaded from the university.

At the trial, Cardiff Crown Court heard that Aljayyash had since moved to Doncaster and was volunteering to help asylum seekers use the internet.

However, judge Wynn Morgan said the scheme was “planned and consistent” and motivated by “financial greed”.

Eltarki’s lawyer, Susan Ferrier, said he realised he had made as “stupid a decision as he could have.” The judge told him it was clear the scheme was not his idea, but his part in it was “self-evidently wrong”.

Eltarki, who is from Libya, plead guilty to agreeing to sell unlawfully obtained exams. He was given a nine-month suspended sentence and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.

Aljayyash, who is an asylum seeker from Iraq, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

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