by David Martin
A former University of Central Missouri student who taunted investigators isn't feeling so smart today. Daniel J. Fowler, 21, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his participation in a computer-hacking conspiracy.
Fowler was indicted last fall on charges that he and another man, Joseph A. Camp, gained unauthorized access to the university computer network. Authorities said the men accessed and tried to sell faculty, staff, alumni and student information.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Fowler admits his role in developing a computer virus used to infect campus computers, including the machine used by the university president.
They used several strategies to infect computers, such as offering to show vacation photographs on a thumb drive that contained the virus. Fowler admitted that they manually installed the virus on several UCM computers in public areas, such as computer labs and the library. Once the virus was successfully installed on a computer, conspirators could obtain remote access to the computer, capture a user's keystrokes, download any of the user's files and remotely turn on the user's webcam to watch and photograph the user of the infected computer.Fowler also admits to using his computer skills to transfer money to his student account and to attempt to change grades. Prosecutors say the conspirators borrowed identities "to mask their activities and mislead university authorities as to the identities of those conducting the attacks on the computer network."
When authorities raided a dorm room where the plot was hatched, they found a Post-it Note stuck to a computer monitor that read "too late!" But the chase didn't end there, apparently, because Fowler is now subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.