LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former University of Kansas student who admitted stealing professors' computer passwords in order to change his failing grades has been convicted of four felonies.
Varun Sarja, 20, of Olathe, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of identity theft and two counts of unlawful computer acts. Fourteen other felony charges were dropped as part of the plea deal, The Lawrence Journal-World reported .
Sarja had no prior criminal record, meaning he will receive probation under the state's sentencing guidelines, Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff said. Sentencing is scheduled for July 2.
Under the plea deal, Sarja will be required to undergo a mental health evaluation and allow law enforcement to ensure that a keystroke logger program he used to steal the professors' passwords has been removed from all his electronic equipment.
Sarja was a freshman studying engineering during the 2016-17 school year when he used the keystroke logger to hack into the university's computer system and change F grades to As. Keystroke loggers plug into computers and record every keystroke that has been typed, enabling hackers to obtain others' user names and passwords for accounts and computer systems.
Sarja was on academic probation in spring 2017 and after records showed he had an A in math, an engineering school academic adviser and the math professor began to investigate.
An investigation by university police revealed Sarja had changed almost all of his 10 grades that year, starting in December. Sarja told detectives he loved engineering and was afraid to tell his parents he had failed classes. He told the judge Thursday he has completed his sophomore year of college, but did not specify where.
Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com