A student who hacked into the University of Birmingham's computer system to change his exam results has been jailed for four months.
Imran Uddin, 25, used a keystroke logger that recorded anything entered via his victims' keyboards to steal staff passwords. Uddin used the information to increase five of his coursework marks, including one which he raised from 57% to 73%.
The Birmingham student had been in his final year of a bio-science course and was predicted to achieve a lower second class degree (50% to 60% overall). Uddin was jailed at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting guilty to six charges under the Computer Misuse Act.
Judge James Burbidge QC told Uddin: "For reasons not entirely clear to me, whether it was monetary, or pride or a desire to out-perform others, you decided to cheat and you formed a settled intention to do that. I consider your actions were planned and persistent.
"This kind of conduct undermines or has the potential to undermine public confidence in the degree system, set up by this university. I have decided I cannot pass a suspended sentence because there needs to be an element of deterrence."
Madhu Rai, prosecuting, said: "It is effectively a case where the defendant has hacked into a number of computers at the university where he was studying for a degree in bio-science."
Ms Rai described how Uddin's keystoke logger was discovered on October 7 during a routine upgrade of a computer in a lecture theatre of the university's bio-science building. The logger was reportedly hidden under the protective casing of the computer. When it had been discovered, a search of other university computers found three additional devices.
One of the loggers was found in a 'staff only' area, and had been used to obtain the password of a member of staff with access to exam grading software.
Balbir Singh, defending, said Uddin was the only person from his family who had gone to university and this had put some much pressure on him "that he could not see clearly."
He added: "He was in his final year and was suspended. It is very unlikely that any other university will touch him after this. This is not a case where he was hopelessly failing and was not going to be able to succeed."
In an email to HuffPost UK, the University of Birmingham said: "The University cannot comment on individual cases, however, we take any criminal activity extremely seriously and work closely with West Midlands Police.”
“In additional to any legal sanctions, students convicted of serious crimes face a student misconduct investigation and ultimately face permanent exclusion.”