Hackers breach computer systems of International Baccalaureate authority in bid to ‘cancel’ exams | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

The body that runs the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme said on Wednesday it had been hacked but stressed no papers of the ongoing exams were leaked amid a wider cheating scandal.

The IB, which earlier found students had posted their recollections of exam questions and answers online before all students had finished the tests worldwide, said it was dealing with an increase in malicious activity attempting to interfere with its computer systems.

“We can confirm that some data from 2018, including employee names, positions and emails have been accessed through a third-party vendor, with some screenshots of this data shared online,” it said in response to a Post inquiry. “At this time, and importantly, no exam material has been compromised.”

The exam body pledged to assess the situation and take “all necessary steps” to contain the incident.

The two-year IB diploma programme is an internationally recognised university entrance qualification. Almost 180,000 students, including some from Hong Kong, took it globally last year.

The IB earlier warned that cheaters would receive no marks for their exams or grades for the relevant subject. Photo: Handout

A group called “vx-underground”, which claims to have the largest collection of malware source code on the internet, wrote on X on May 6 that one or more unknown threat actors had claimed to have compromised the IB.

“We have briefly reviewed the data and from a high-level overview this breach looks legitimate and like they’ve got everything … They’ve released nearly 100 photos as proof and the proof is damning,” the group wrote.

It added: “It says on their channel their goal is to have exams cancelled. This appears to be some extortion? We can’t tell and no threat actor has said anything about it.”

The Post has reached out to the group for further comment.

After news of cheating emerged last week, at least 4,200 people have signed an online petition urging the IB to cancel this year’s exams or make efforts to ensure justice for students who did not read the materials posted online.

The IB said earlier it had taken “appropriate and timely measures” to remove all online posts that contained leaked exam questions.

While it did not disclose how many students had been caught cheating, the Post discovered the leaked materials had been downloaded more than 47,000 times as of Monday afternoon.

The IB earlier warned that cheaters would receive no marks for their exams or grades for the relevant subject.

Last year, 2,275 pupils sat IB exams in Hong Kong, up slightly from 2,213 in 2022.

This year’s assessments are being held from April 24 to May 17. The IB and the Diploma of Secondary Education tests are the two major university entrance exams in Hong Kong.

Critics have described the leaks as reflecting “bad governance” and called on the IB to improve security for the exams.

Edward Law Shun-yuen, co-founder and director of tutorial centre HKExcel, said that while the IB had been offering two sets of papers for each subject to prevent candidates from leaking materials, it should consider preparing more.

The IB said on Monday that it was striving to stay ahead of technological advancements that could impact learning, as well as cultivating a culture of academic integrity among students that emphasised the importance of honesty and the negative consequences of cheating.


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