Los Angeles schools halt home use of district-issued iPads after students hack security restrictions

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
The Los Angeles Unified School District has suspended home use of Apple's iPad by students until further notice following the revelation that a number of students had bypassed the school-installed security features on the device.



After one week with the devices, 300 LAUSD students were able to bypass the content restrictions the district had installed on their iPads, enabling them to browse sites such as YouTube and FaceBook, both of which were blocked along with other sites by the district's policy. Administrators were still handing out devices last week when the students' workaround was discovered, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Now, the district has halted home use of the devices, and scrutiny of the program has increased. Sources within the district say that the development may delay the rollout of a massive program that would see Apple providing an iPad for every student in the LAUSD.

Student profiles on the devices come with restrictions built in, preventing them from accessing services such as Twitter, Pandora, and other popular sites. This restriction reportedly extends to when the devices leave a campus and are taken home, leading to student complaints about the severity of the limitations.

The students who circumvented the restrictions did so by simply deleting their personal profiles, whereupon they were free to surf and tweet.

Within hours, the details of the bypass spread throughout the district by word of mouth and Twitter.

With the at-home use suspension, administrators are looking to head off further spread of the workaround, as they believe it raises potential issues regarding student safety.

"Outside of the district's network, a user is free to download content and applications and browse the Internet without restriction," two senior administrators said in a memo to the Board of Education and L.A. Schools Superintendent John Deasy. "As student safety is of paramount concern, breach of the... system must not occur."

However, administrators seemed only mildly confident that they could keep the workaround under wraps.

"I'm guessing this is just a sample of what will likely occur on other campuses once this hits Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites explaining to our students how to breach or compromise the security of these devices," LAUSD Police Chief Steven Zippermean wrote in a confidential memo. "I want to prevent a 'runaway train' scenario when we may have the ability to put a hold on the roll-out."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 109
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,818member
    Best evidence yet that this technology has no place being issued to every student. Keep a lid on it in the school lab. Not so much because it doesn't have a legitimate use but because the little bastards can't be trusted. And their parents are probably no better. Old dad probably would be on xhamster.com with the kid's iPad.
  • Reply 2 of 109
    Aren't those profiles kept in Settings and can't they just lock down Settings to prevent this?
  • Reply 3 of 109
    Ummm! Apple needs a crack team of 8 people to get on jet to nip this [email protected]*t in the bud!
  • Reply 4 of 109
    lkrupp wrote: »
    Best evidence yet that this technology has no place being issued to every student. Keep a lid on it in the school lab. Not so much because it doesn't have a legitimate use but because the little bastards can't be trusted. And their parents are probably no better. Old dad probably would be on xhamster.com with the kid's iPad.

    Not the answer bro.
  • Reply 5 of 109
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by akqies View Post



    Are those profiles kept in Settings and can't they just lock down Settings to prevent this?

     

    You cannot keep people out of the settings app, but there are certain things you can restrict with Profile Manager. I'm thinking they missed a setting or something when configuring the iPad for their filter. It sounds like the internet filter has a profile or something and it was left wide open. 

  • Reply 6 of 109
    You cannot keep people out of the settings app, but there are certain things you can restrict with Profile Manager. I'm thinking they missed a setting or something when configuring the iPad for their filter. It sounds like the internet filter has a profile or something and it was left wide open. 
    Good post!

    No histrionics! :)
  • Reply 7 of 109
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,658member

    One thing that is interesting about this program is each kid will also have an Apple ID.  There is another big source of potential trouble for the district and Apple.

  • Reply 8 of 109
    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

    Ummm! Apple needs a crack team of 8 people to get on jet to nip this [email protected]*t in the bud!

     

    What responsibility is this of Apple’s?

  • Reply 9 of 109
    I predicted this would be a disaster before it started. The district is surprised. I'm not.
  • Reply 10 of 109
    If only they had used Chromebooks! It would have been cheaper per student, and they would have avoided this fiasco! (Not to mention they would have good centralized management.)
  • Reply 11 of 109
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,501member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    This restriction reportedly extends to when the devices leave a campus and are taken home, leading to student complaints about the severity of the limitations.

     

    "Complaints"??  I'll fix that.  Go buy your own f#!king iPad then.  You're given one (technically for free for school use) and suddenly they feel they should do what they want with it?



    If I were their age, I'd probably do the same thing and hack it simply because of my curiosity and challenge.  However, I'd expect them to clamp down on it if word got out.  It's an expectation simply because... it's not mine!!

  • Reply 12 of 109
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,153member

    Ok.. why these profiles are not password protected against delete? Were they password protected and the students circumvented this security measure?

  • Reply 13 of 109

    What's the problem? These kids are just being trained for the NSA

  • Reply 14 of 109
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by brians View Post



    If only they had used Chromebooks! It would have been cheaper per student, and they would have avoided this fiasco! (Not to mention they would have good centralized management.)

     

    Seriously? Did you miss the /s for sarcasm?

  • Reply 15 of 109
    Quote:


     preventing them from accessing services such as Twitter, Pandora, and other popular sites. This restriction reportedly extends to when the devices leave a campus and are taken home, leading to student complaints about the severity of the limitations.


     

    Severity? Really? Why should you be allowed to access anything but education material on an education device? 

     

    Also, I think Apple should step in here. NOT because it is their responsibility, but because they want more education sales and therefore should help resolve these issues. Apple should easily be able to Kiosk the iPads for educational use. 

  • Reply 16 of 109
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    Looks like the Education Dept didn't bother to test their "security" system. Fail.
  • Reply 17 of 109
    And in another news -- Boeing engineers are found playing Tiny Wings on their company issued iPad4 during work hours.
  • Reply 18 of 109
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,007member
    The blame is on the IT managers not the students. Proper configuration of an MDM system would have kept them out. The MDM has a separate admin password for all system changes. This is inexcusable. I'd bet the IT managers and techs (if they had any) never read the manuals.
  • Reply 19 of 109
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Avonord View Post



    And in another news -- Boeing engineers are found playing Tiny Wings on their company issued iPad4 during work hours.

     

    if it keeps them from drinking and flying, I'm all for it <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /> 

  • Reply 20 of 109
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post



    The blame is on the IT managers not the students. Proper configuration of an MDM system would have kept them out. The MDM has a separate admin password for all system changes. This is inexcusable. I'd bet the IT managers and techs (if they had any) never read the manuals.

     

    That's like blaming the lock company and not the home intruder. I don't think students should be allowed to do what they want as long as they can find someone else to blame. 

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