Saskatchewan·CBC Investigates

U of R grades hacked through dean's computer account, according to internal email

In early September, just as the fall semester was beginning, a University of Regina engineering professor was shocked to discover grades in one of his classes had been changed by someone using the dean of engineering’s computer account.

University says someone stole dean's login credentials or hacked system

An internal email indicates someone may have accessed the computer account of Esam Hussein, the dean of engineering at the University of Regina, in order to alter students' grades.

Just as this fall semester was beginning, a University of Regina engineering professor was shocked to discover grades in one of his classes had been changed by someone using the dean of engineering's computer account.

In an email to university provost Tom Chase, Farshid Torabi said that when making a final check on grades for his class he noticed that the average had changed. That prompted him to investigate.

"Some of those students were failed with grades lower than 40, but I saw them changed to over 50," wrote Torabi.
Professor Farshid Torabi was surprised to discover someone had tampered with grades from one of his engineering courses. (University of Regina)

Earlier this month, CBC broke the story of the apparent hacking of grades in the faculty of engineering. CBC has since acquired Torabi's correspondence with Chase on the matter.

Torabi reported what he found to his superiors and to the IT department, which investigated. 

"Results were shocking!" he wrote in the email. "IT support indicated that grades were changed by someone that appears to be the Dean, Dr. Esam Hussein."

He said IT also discovered that grades had been changed in several other courses.

Torabi doubted the dean would do such a thing.

Chase confirmed the suspicious activity, and assured Torabi the dean wasn't involved.

"Changes to these grades were not made by the Dean of Engineering or indeed any other authorized University employee, but rather by an individual or individuals who either stole the Dean's log-in credentials or otherwise hacked into the grading system," wrote Chase.

He also assured Torabi an investigation was underway.

"All grade changes are recorded and tracked by this system, as are the IP addresses of those making such changes. The log-in credentials used in this illicit action were terminated as soon as it was discovered," wrote Chase.

The university says that so far, the investigation has detected changes to grades in four classes in the faculty of engineering.

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.