Spyware case finally closed for teacher Julie Amero

from the NY Times: %between%

**Spyware case finally closed for teacher Julie Amero **


        The case against Julie Amero is finally closed.

On Friday, prosecutors reached a plea agreement with the former Connecticut schoolteacher who at one time faced up to 40 years in prison after being convicted of endangering minors. The charges stemmed from a 2004 incident in which a computer loaded with spyware displayed pornography to her students.

State prosecutors dropped four felony charges of “risk of injury to a minor” against her, with Amero pleading guilty to a disorderly conduct misdemeanor, according to the Hartford Courant.

A jury convicted Amero of the felony charges in January 2007, but the presiding judge in the case, Hillary Strackbein, set aside that verdict five months later, essentially granting Amero a new trial.

Amero will pay a US$100 charge and have her Connecticut teaching credentials revoked, said Sunbelt Software CEO Alex Eckelberry, who led the team of computer investigators that analyzed the school’s computer and concluded that Amero was innocent.

Amero had become a cause celebre to computer security professionals who argued that she was an innocent victim of spyware programs that took control of a poorly configured computer on Oct. 19, 2004, at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, Connecticut, where Amero had been a substitute teacher.

Something is very odd here. If she’s innocent, why is she being punished?

My guess is that she was doing something unauthorized, and the consequences were much greater than she expected.

Otherwise, this is an outrageous offense against justice.

My best guess is that she permitted the students to download games from a site not authorized by her school board, and that the (seemingly innocent) games were what triggered the spy-ware.

So, she is being punished for not observing school regulations with regard to which sites are permitted for the students to view and download from. (It still seems excessive - unless she kept doing it even after she noticed problems on the computers.)

From what I heard about the case when the whole mess started, it’s the latter.

The fine, okay (and one for the school’s IT department, if their negligence or incompetence caused all this), but pulling her teaching credentials is unconscionable.

According to security experts the school’s system was poorly configured and protected. From a securityfocus article:

The team of security professionals analyzing the forensic evidence are not yet ready to release an opinion, but one thing is clear, Eckelberry said: The classroom’s machine was infested with spyware and the school did not have adequate protections in place.
It’s an issue that has refocused some of the debate on administrators at Kelly Middle School. School officials recently told parents that the incident could never happen today, because the district has installed security software and a filtering system.
“This was a Windows 98 SE machine with IE 5 and an expired antivirus subscription,” Eckelberry said. “It hadn’t been updated since August, and there was no anti-spyware, no pop-up protection, no firewall and no content filters. Regardless of whatever happened, this machine was a machine that should not have been on the Internet.”

As to why she plead guilty even though she didn’t do anything wrong – just so it would be over, to avoid another trial, to let the DA have his little victory and save face.
Even if he’s a total moron he has to know he’s wrong by now, but DA’s want wins, not justice.

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