[plug] Student access to school networks

hatari at iinet.net.au hatari at iinet.net.au
Sat Mar 22 15:58:49 UTC 2014



See ya.


On 21 Mar 2014 at 21:23, Kevin Shackleton wrote:

Hi Wayne,

I well understand the generalised statements that your making. I'm not offended at all, and I 
don't want to get into a slanging match, but really you have failed to demonstrate what's 
different between a PC that a student is leasing through the school, which started out with a 
standard image, and a privately owned PC. Either of them can soon be loaded up with 
cracking tools, either can be used to try code injection in web pages or SQL etc.

I have been involved in school networks and security, but not in the last 5 years or so.

Yesterday I was speaking with a guy at Shenton College. He says they do everything 
through their intranet - file upload & download as well as intensively using Moodle etc for 
student organisation. They have achieved device independence. I suspect that there will be 
security gaps found but I doubt that the hardware used in finding the gaps would be a 
significant factor.

My original email was aimed at finding specific problems found at schools. I know there 
were issues with Mac networking prior to OSX, but that's all gone. There are problems with 
Surface devices and wireless, but pads are not encouraged at schools.



On 21 March 2014 17:22, <hatari at iinet.net.au > wrote:
    OK, Kevin; I thought towards the end of my email I did imply critical aspects 
    about any computer "system" (as for a school). Here, again, are the critical 
    aspects that I believe are important from the "computer system" point of view: 
    '...standardized, regulated, accessible and available...'.
*   "Standardized" means that it is kept to some uniform level that can be 
    easily managed (yet functional and worthwhile for everyone);
*   "Regulated" means that it is under control - control which is important to 
    keep it operating (both in the "managed" sense, and in a sense of 
*   "Accessible" means that anyone (who is authorized) has capacity to use it 
    (as deemed appropriate);
*   "Available" means that the whole system is kept operational for everyone 
    (as best as can be maintained - given external parameters imposed by 
    "higher" authority, capacity, funds and so forth).

    Those were some aspects that I quickly put forward for you at the time, but I 
    am sure there are possibly more.

    If, at the end of your email you meant "...(BUT) what is the difference between 
    their PC's?" then it is probably to do with the "regulated" part - and that's to do 
    with "control" (as I mentioned above). That's why I said that a thumbdrive is 
    possibly a good "middle pathway". It also fulfills the other aspects mentioned - 
    standardized, accessible, available.

    I can only say to you that if you have never looked after a ( school) computer 
    system then you don't know the capacity for (kids ) people to - either 
    accidentally or deliberately bypass, alter, corrupt, or destroy it (for others). [I 
    can give examples of all those too!]

    Kevin, this is not meant to be any attack on your opinion or that of child's 
    ability but was more to do with sharing knowledge about maintaining a 
    computer system, that is to say, keeping it up and running in the face of 
    extraordinary behaviours - and why someone might want to restrict your access. 
    Yes; it may also demonstrate "parochial" behaviour by me but I assure you that 
    it comes from various and numerous (unpleasant) experiences.

    Hope that helps.



    On 16 Mar 2014 at 6:33, Kevin Shackleton wrote:

Interesting viewpoint thanks Wayne.
It's not clear to me what the critical factors were in your example.
In the situation I am dealing with, the students have their own leased pc via the school 
which is given access, or they have their own pc they self-sourced which is not given 
access. While there are going to be extreme examples of students in any environment, 
what's the difference in their pcs?
    On 15/03/2014 7:56 PM, <hatari at iinet.net.au> wrote:

    I used to run the IT system (Apple) for a School. We had some "hacking" trouble.

    (At least) one Student had significant experience in the system - far more than me. On 
    one occasion he was nearly caught red-handed "hacking" in the classroom - so he 
    dropped (threw) his CD holder out the open window nearby. There were about 100 
    disks of all sorts. They were found by a Passer-by before the Student could retrieve 
    them - and they were handed-in to me.

    The little brat had every hacking tool under the sun in there, and other programs as 
    well. All were copied discs.

    As an IT manager I wouldn't want such little brats anywhere near the system. You may 
    be happy to accept "anything goes" on a system meant to be standardized, regulated, 
    accessible and available to all, but not me.

    Let them use a thumbdrive or other setup to pick-up/post their homework. Easy-peazy!

    Sorry for this "other" opinion.



    On 11 Mar 2014 at 18:21, Kevin Shackleton wrote:


    I have a situation where my daughter is attending a leading independent government 
    school and because she is using her own UNIX (ok, it's a Mac) PC instead of leasing 
    one through the school, the school won't give her a logon for the shared drives. These 
    drives are used to pick up and drop off school work.

    The school's original position was "the Department policy prevents . .".
    I contacted the Department of Education and received:
    "The development and implementation of SOE version 4.2 in schools has enabled 
    local decisions to be made regarding which of these online services are made 
    available to staff and students. This strategy directly supports the philosophy of 
    Independent Public Schools and ensures that Western Australian public schools can 
    be individual, distinctive and responsive to their local communities while still benefiting 
    from being part of a system."

    I wonder if anyone is working in a position where they might cast light on why school 
    IT managers are so parochial in the 21st century? What is it they fear?
    PLUG discussion list: plug at plug.org.au
    Committee e-mail: committee at plug.org.au
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