Thursday, September 26, 2013

LAUSD halts home use of iPads after students hack into school-issued devices

The Los Angeles Unified School District has discovered that its students are more clever than they expected. It announced on Wednesday (via the LA Times) that it has halted home use of school-issued iPads until further notice, after students hacked the devices to gain full access to non-school-related content.

It was an issue that should have been seen coming, and roadblocked. According to Roosevelt High School senior Alfredo Garcia, students began trying to hack into the devices because "they took them home and they can't do anything with them."

Anything outside of school-approved activity, that is.

Other schools that reported the issue were Westchester High School and the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills, Calif.

It wasn't much of a hack, really. Jailbreaking was not involved. Instead, all students had to do was to delete their personal profile information. Once that was done, a student could do anything. Soon, students were tweeting, surfing the Web, Facebooking, and more.

In a confidential memo to senior staff obtained by The Times, LAUSD Police Chief Steven Zipperman suggested that the district might want to delay further distribution of the devices:
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.

I want to prevent a 'runaway train' scenario when we may have the ability to put a hold on the roll-out.
The program was scheduled to put an iPad in the hands of every student in the LAUSD, which is the nation's second-largest school system, within a year. Roosevelt High School was among the first to distribute Apple's hit tablet, beginning a week ago.

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