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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

education

MCCSC director discusses iPad hacking, security

More than 2,000 iPads equipped with locking mechanisms restricting access to games and social media were recently distributed to students at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Ind. But within a day, those locks didn’t matter.

Jason Taylor, director of information services for Monroe County Community School Corporation,  explained how the Center Grove students hacked the technology.

“Currently, you manage iPads by placing configuration profiles on them,” Taylor said. “The user of the iPad is allowed to remove that profile. This is what happened at Center Grove. At the time, using iOS6, Center Grove could not guarantee that student activity would be monitored through their web filter. With iOS7, this changes and we can place a global setting to force traffic from the iPad to our web filter.”

MCCSC has a similar technology program with its Digital Learning Initiative, one aspect of which is providing all students with access to iPads.

Taylor said it is possible a similar situation could arise at MCCSC, but that there are ways the schools can mitigate this.

“If a student ‘hacks’ or removes the configuration profile, we can find out immediately and notify the building principal,” he said. “The corporation-issued
apps would also be removed and the student would only have the base apps installed on the iPad, which would make it very hard to participate in class.”

Taylor said there have already been a few isolated incidents of similar hacking at MCCSC.

“We have only had a few students remove the profile, which was quickly identified and
re-installed,” he said.

However, Taylor said the problem is not merely the battle between students hacking and schools increasing security. What is more important is teaching responsible technology usage to students, he said.

“I do not believe that increasing the security is the solution,” Taylor said. “We work hard to teach our students to use the devices in a responsible manner. We know that once they leave our network and are not using our devices they will have unlimited access, and we want to teach them to be responsible and protect their privacy.”

Taylor said schools can only do so much, and after the bell rings, it’s up to the students to use the iPads safely and responsibly.

“When we do send devices home next year, we just want to make sure that we are providing a basic level of filtering that is required of public schools,” he said.

Follow reporter Stephen Kroll on Twitter @stephenkroll1.

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