Industry News

University of Iowa student used keyloggers to change his grades 90 times

A former student and wrestler at the University of Iowa was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday in Denver for allegedly installing keyloggers on university computers as part of a cheating scheme, writes The New York Times.

22-year-old Trevor Graves allegedly hacked the university’s computers to steal test questions and assignments, and change his grades over 90 times in 21 months, as well as those of at least five other students in a number of classes such as engineering, chemistry and business. Two other students are investigated under suspicion of computer hacking.

The keyloggers, dubbed “pineapple” or “Hand of God,” gave Graves access to what professors were typing so he could steal their HawkID and passwords to log in to the email and grading system, court documents say. The scheme started in March 2015 and ended in December 2016, after a faculty member reported Graves’ grades had been repeatedly changed without authorization.

The FBI started investigating the breach together with campus police. After searching Graves’ off-campus apartment, detectives confiscated keyloggers, thumb drives and cell phones, including one with a screenshot of Graves breaching a professor’s account. Other evidence was found on the seized devices, including messages between Graves and other students discussing the cheating scheme.

“Pineapple hunter is currently laying in wait in a classroom already,” read one of the messages Graves had sent.

Graves faces 20 years in prison for allegedly hacking a computer to steal information and intentionally installing a computer program to cause damage deliberately. His accomplices could also be expelled or suspended, according to university statements.

Following the breach, the university invested $68,000 in its investigation and in strengthening infrastructure security.

About the author


From a young age, Luana knew she wanted to become a writer. After having addressed topics such as NFC, startups, and tech innovation, she has now shifted focus to internet security, with a keen interest in smart homes and IoT threats. Luana is a supporter of women in tech and has a passion for entrepreneurship, technology, and startup culture.