CUT database hacker gets nod to attend international hackathon

By Staff reporter | 24 Feb 2020 at 18:35hrs
CUT
A CHINHOYI University of Technology (CUT) computer whizkid, who is out on bail on charges of hacking into the university's examination results database and altering his results and those of seven other students, has had his bail conditions relaxed so he can travel to Switzerland for the International Hackathon.

The computer genius is one of the team of three students who won the inaugural Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) hackathon competition in Kadoma recently.

Tatenda Christopher Chinyamakobvu (20), who is a Level 2.2 Information and Technology student, is facing eight counts of hacking.

He has since been arrested and appeared before Chinhoyi magistrate Ms Mithel Mabika, who remanded him out of custody on $150 bail on the second attempt after being denied on grounds that he was a flight risk.

Lawyer Mr Tungamirai Chamutsa applied for bail again on changed circumstances, telling the court that Chinyamakobvu needed to undertake preparations to represent Zimbabwe at the International Hackathon competition in Switzerland.

Mr Chamutsa argued that Chinyamakobvu was not a flight risk as the State was catering for his travel expenses and stay in Switzerland.

On the first count, Chinyamakobvu allegedly unlawfully accessed the CUT computer database and changed results for his CUPE119 August to December 2018 semester which he was supposed to rewrite after failing.

The matter came to light in January when the CUT Information Communication Technology director discovered that Chinyamakobvu's results had been fiddled with. Investigations by the police led to the arrest of Tanaka Craig Nyandoro, who identified Chinyamakobvu as the brains behind the manipulation.

Chinyamakobvu received varying amounts of between US$20 and US$80 from students who had failed multiple courses. Upon his arrest, he led police to the recovery of an Itel P33 cellphone, which he used to access the Examination Results Server and a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop that he used to forge the results while staying in New Canaan, Highfield, Harare.

It later turned out that, sometime in May 2019, he approached Nyandoro saying he could forge his results without the university knowing. He demanded US$30 and student registration details before accessing the university's computer database server using the Python Script called SQLMap.

Chinyamakobvu went on to forge Nyandoro's failed March to June 2019 semester courses in maths, soil sciences and electronic principles which would not allow him to proceed to the next level.

On the third count, he allegedly approached Tatenda Amanda Mukwauri and told her that he could alter her results without being detected. He used his cellphone to change Tatenda's results in failed courses including commercial law, customs practice and documentation and business research methods after she paid $800 via his friend Nyandoro's EcoCash account.

On the strength of the results, Tatenda went on to get an industrial attachment at Green Fuels in Chisumbanje. He further approached Everton Kamba, Shannon Anotidaishe Nyagoro, Ronald Tanaka Mataba, Liberty Kudzai Muzemba and Tafadzwa Chiweshe saying he could manipulate the system so that they could proceed with their studies.

Some were not supposed to proceed while others were supposed to sit for their supplementary examinations. Chinyamakobvu received varying amounts of between US$20 and US$80 from the students who had failed multiple courses.

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