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LA students crack security on school-issued iPads

california apple glitch security settings internet video games

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#1 Hum

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 20:01

Education officials in the nation's second-largest school district are working to reboot a $1 billion plan to put an iPad in the hands of each of their 650,000 students after an embarrassing glitch emerged when the first round of tablets went out.

Instead of solving math problems or doing English homework, as administrators envisioned, more than 300 Los Angeles Unified School District students promptly cracked the security settings and started tweeting, posting to Facebook and playing video games.

"'Temple Run.' 'Subway Surfing.' Oh, and some car racing game I can't remember the name of," said freshman Stephany Romero, laughing as she described the games she saw fellow Roosevelt High School students playing in class last week.

That incident, and related problems, had both critics and supporters questioning this week whether LAUSD officials were being hasty or overreaching in their attempt to distribute an iPad to every student and teacher at the district's more than 1,000 campuses by next year.

"It doesn't seem like there was much planning that went into this strategy," said Renee Hobbs, director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island. "That's where the debacle began."

It's crucial, she said, to spend extensive time drawing students into a discussion on using iPads responsibly before handing them out. And, of course, installing a firewall that can't be easily breached.

At Roosevelt High, it was the unanimous opinion of more than a dozen students that the school district's security setup was so weak that even the most tech-challenged parent could have gotten past it.

"It was so easy!" said freshman Carlos Espinoza.

He explained that all one needed to do was access the tablet's settings, delete the profile established by the school district and set up an Internet connection. He did it, he said, because he wanted to go on Facebook.

"They kind of should have known this would happen," said Espinoza's friend Maria Aguilera.

"We're high school students after all. I mean, come on," she added.

As word spread, with the speed of a microprocessor, that anyone could crack the firewall, officials quickly confiscated the devices and put a freeze on using them off campus. In the meantime, they promised to improve the security settings.

When they started distributing the iPads at 47 district schools in August, administrators touted the move as a means of leveling the academic playing field in a public school system where 80 percent of the students come from low-income families.

Now, they said, everyone would have equal access to the most cutting-edge educational software programs, not just the children of parents with deep pockets.

But after the first shot in that digital revolution led to a flood of tweets, other concerns arose.

Among them:

  -- Who pays if a kid drops one of these $678 gadgets into a toilet or leaves it on a bus? :huh:

  -- Is it realistic to tell a student she can use it to do her homework, then not allow the device to connect to the Internet from home? (Schools will be wired.)

  -- And since the tablet without Web access is only as good as the educational software placed on it, how good is that software?

A parent, Scott Folsom, said he heard from one source that families would have to pay for broken iPads and from another that the school would.

District officials have said there was confusion over that issue but that it's been decided schools will cover the cost of an iPad accidentally broken, lost or stolen, while families are on the hook for one negligently damaged.

Of more serious concern to Folsom is the software. He sampled one of the new iPads, he said, and found no program to adequately support English-as-a-second-language students. That would seemingly be crucial for a district whose students are 73 percent Hispanic and where only 14 percent of English learners can speak the language fluently, according to a 2011 Department of Education study.

As a parent representative to the district's bond oversight committee, Folsom voted to recommend spending $30 million last June to buy the first batch of iPads. He says he still supports the program but worries that maybe educators are trying to implement it too quickly.

"This is the future," he said. "But whether LAUSD is stepping too quickly into the future -- based on the fact that it's so big, and we seem to be in such a hurry -- those are questions to consider."

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#2 primexx

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 23:02

lol. of course that would happen. all it takes is 1 in the 650k students to crack the security and distribute it, it's a doomed battle to begin with. one wonders what the point of the gadgets are though if they're going to restrict just about every function it has.



#3 sc302

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 23:17

lol. of course that would happen. all it takes is 1 in the 650k students to crack the security and distribute it, it's a doomed battle to begin with. one wonders what the point of the gadgets are though if they're going to restrict just about every function it has.

There are a ton of educational apps.  restricting internet (or even certain sites) has no bearing on whether or not the apps function.  they probably wanted to just use the approved apps while limiting all other access.  Which could easily be done by putting the ipads on a network that has no internet access and restricting them to only having them at school not being able to bring them home.  It is easy enough to do if they had a half way competent IT person setting this up....the only issue there would be is restricting these devices to a specific wlan and not allowing them to be tethered to their personal cell phones.  Which could also be done with parental controls. 



#4 Darrian

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 23:22

Wait, they need "English-as-a-second-language" software because 59% of those kids can't speak English?  If they're in school they were probably born in the USA, so not speaking English is inexcusable.  Even if they are immigrants, they'd better pick it up quickly or they're gonna have some trouble when they get out on their own.  Practices that facilitate people living in a country to get by and never have to learn the native language of that country ###### me off.



#5 Growled

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 02:58

They probably should have went with a Chromebook. From what I understand they are much easier to lock down and they are quite popular with school.



#6 _BeanZ_

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 08:20

He explained that all one needed to do was access the tablet's settings, delete the profile established by the school district and set up an Internet connection. 

 

So basically, they didn't "crack" anything. They just went in and removed the profile because the techs didn't bother supervising the devices through Apple Configurator.



#7 +Phouchg

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 18:38

iPads are cool. Let's be the first and buy a sh&tload of iPads.

 

...

Uh-oh.



#8 firey

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 18:51

this concept was how we bypassed the filters at highschool.  We would re-run the ineternet connection wizard (icwconn1.exe) and re-setup the internet and have it connect under land, and voila.. no filter.



#9 OP Hum

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 00:42

Hope they don't discover poRn. :p



#10 Mr.XXIV

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 00:48

Hope they don't discover poRn. :p

 

Shoot, it would have been worse if you tried to work with a Linux-based OS.



#11 ensiform

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 00:53

this concept was how we bypassed the filters at highschool.  We would re-run the ineternet connection wizard (icwconn1.exe) and re-setup the internet and have it connect under land, and voila.. no filter.

All I had to do was run portable firefox from a usb, their filters only worked on IE at the time.



#12 firey

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:03

All I had to do was run portable firefox from a usb, their filters only worked on IE at the time.

That worked for us too.  The issue was the IE was setup with a proxy and that proxy is what filtered it.



#13 Raa

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:17

iPads are cool. Let's be the first and buy a sh&tload of iPads.

 

...

Uh-oh.

Having exactly that situation before me right now.

 

What a waste of $^#%@ time.