Only smart kids cheat

11 PM December 16, 2004

The Sydney Morning Herald had a report yesterday that some Higher School Certificate students had discovered their results before the official release date. On my reading of the article, the Board of Studies had placed the results on the public web server, and all that was required was for some student to work out the correct URLs.

You’d think an official body would know better.

When somebody puts information on a public web site, that’s the equivalent of writing it on a big piece of cardboard and leaving it on the side of the road. It will eventually get noticed. Trying to hide the information by keep the URL secret is like putting your piece of cardboard under a bush on the side of the road. It’s just a matter of time before somebody curious looks behind the bush and finds your big secret. Moral: if it’s secret, don’t make it publicly accessible.

There is no talk of punishment or sanctions for these kids. This is sensible. It would be a pity if they suffered for the board’s incompetence.

Funny thing is, all the kids who were interviewed by the SMH did very well – mostly 90 plus. Which goes to show – only the smart kids cheat.

By alang | # | Comments (1)
(Posted to Software Development and Rants)

Comments

At 00:38, 17 Dec 2004 Chris wrote:

If I walk around a sign that says "no trespassing" to get where I need to go faster and nobody sees me, then I'm ok. If I go to the press and talk about the lack of fences preventing me from doing this trespassing is that so smart? I suspect people would think me smart, yet naive :)

Probably something to do with post-teenage brain development and a sense of consequences:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/interviews/todd.html

That said, banks don't store piles of cash in the open defended by threatening signs. How negligent is it to rely on security by obscurity to defend something as coveted as HSC results?

I wonder if the web site implementers were as concerned about maintaining security of the results as talkback and Andrew Refshauge.

(#)

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