While I was out running around the country, turns out there was an interesting security article in my own backyard.
Seems the local school system can’t keep up with those innovative students exploring their network. A students was caught after hacking a teacher’s computer to steal a copy of an upcoming test.
“As a parent, I think it’s kind of scary all the technology, because the kids know more than we do,” she said. “They have different lines of communication compared to when we were growing up.” Haug added that it’s unfortunate that a student smart enough to hack into a computer did not put his intelligence to better use. But she said she is pleased that another student reported the hacker. “That’s pretty remarkable,” Haug said. “That says a lot about their morals and that they’re ethical enough to do that.”
I suspect it was another kid hitting on the same girl, but I suppose even high school kids have their ethical moments.
My brother in law works on the tech education side of a high school and has relayed some interesting stories about the problems of intelligent students on public education networks. At Symposium I met with a group from a school system struggling to limit access to MySpace and porn. The kids were avoiding URL filters by tunneling through their home computers. I used to work in higher ed, but that was in the days where we didn’t really care (well, I did, but not the higher admins).
I really feel for those of you working in public schools. School boards and activist parents (the ones not very involved with their kids lives, who scream and rant at the school system for fun) hold witch trials, complete with the public burning at the end, if any student so much as glances at a stray boob. Not that theses kinds of parents actually monitor their kid’s Internet and TV usage at home, using it as an educational tool. When it comes to censorship, China has nothing on an inflamed school board.
Here’s the problem. Smart teenage boys + technical skills + the Internet = boobs. You can take your best precautions, but you’ll never stop them. Every high school probably has one kid who can tunnel HTTP over SSH over DNS to their proxy at home and bounce out to MyBoobs.com.
I made some suggestions to the clients that should reduce their exposure significantly, but also told them that if they’ll face disciplinary action if that smart kid goes public, they might as well polish up the resumes now.
What’s a school district to do? Start by accepting you can’t control the Internet. Then install whatever reasonable security controls you can afford, especially a good URL filter and endpoint protection for teachers’ computers. Be smart about it- high school students will need to research breast cancer and read National Geographic; don’t low-ball and buy some tool that won’t even let them research Essex County.
Most important? Educate teachers and parents. Parents should actively participate online with your kids.
Nothing else will work. And there’s no humanly possible way to keep a teenage boy from his boobs. Trust me.