Passport

Sri Lankan Teenager Hacks President’s Website Twice to Demand New Date For College Exams

How do high schoolers attempt to get out of exams these days? In Sri Lanka, one of them has turned to hacking the president's website.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena listens to an AFP journalist during an interview in Colombo on January 3, 2016. Up to 100,000 people still living in camps six years after the end of Sri Lanka's ethnic war will be given land for homes within six months, President Maithripala Sirisena told AFP Sunday. "It is an ambitious target, but I will see that all the internally displaced people are given land to build homes," the president said in an interview. "I am setting up a mechanism to complete this process within six months." AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI        (Photo credit should read )
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena listens to an AFP journalist during an interview in Colombo on January 3, 2016. Up to 100,000 people still living in camps six years after the end of Sri Lanka's ethnic war will be given land for homes within six months, President Maithripala Sirisena told AFP Sunday. "It is an ambitious target, but I will see that all the internally displaced people are given land to build homes," the president said in an interview. "I am setting up a mechanism to complete this process within six months." AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI (Photo credit should read )

When high school students want to weasel their way out of an unwanted exam or homework assignment, they typically rely on time-tested excuses like faking illnesses or conjuring up paper-hungry dogs.

But one Sri Lankan high school student’s attempt to shake his college entrance exam went way beyond that of other kids, all the way, in fact, to the country’s president. The student hacked President Maithripala Sirisena’s website once on Friday to demand a revised test date and then again on Saturday after the government had removed his first post.

“Dear Mr. President, we are extremely displeased about the decision to hold [exams] in April since the Sinhala/Hindu New Year falls in between the exam dates. Therefore, reconsider that decision,” he wrote in his second message.

The 17-year-old hacker, who was arrested on Monday and hasn’t been named by the police, then taunted the president for his website’s lax security.

“Take care of the security of Sri Lankan websites. Or else, we will have to face a cyber war,” he wrote, followed by other abrupt commands: “If you cannot control the situation hold a Presidential Election. Stop the Prime Minister’s irresponsible work.”

The breach of Sirisena’s website comes as other more sophisticated hackers, allegedly working on behalf of Russian intelligence services, have made mincemeat of the U.S. government’s web security. In recent months, hackers have stolen top secret malware from the National Security Agency and leaked sensitive internal emails from the Democratic Party. And on Tuesday hackers — who may or may not have links to Moscow — pilfered voter information from state government databases.

Photo credit: LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images

Henry Johnson is a fellow at Foreign Policy. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in history and previously wrote for LobeLog. @HenryJohnsoon

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