School spying: infected laptops mandatory, jailbreaking grounds for explusion

Here's an excellent investigative post on the surveillance technology and policy that Pennsylvania's Lower Merion School District employed against its students. Two security researchers, "Stryde" and Aaron Rhodes, read through the web-posts and other material made public by the school administrators who maintained the laptop surveillance as well as student accounts of its use and reports on the policies that surrounded it:
* Possession of a monitored Macbook was required for classes

* Possession of an unmonitored personal computer was forbidden and would be confiscated

* Disabling the camera was impossible

* Jailbreaking a school laptop in order to secure it or monitor it against intrusion was an offense which merited expulsion

Stryde also reverse-engineered "LANRev," the spyware that came installed on all student laptops:
During our testing, we infected a laptop with LANRev, then closed the lid, hoping to activate the LANRev feature which takes a webcam picture when the computer wakes. As my colleague Aaron opened the lid of his Mac, the green webcam light flickered, ever so briefly. It wasn't a glitch. It was a highly sophisticated remote spy in his system. And even though he was in control, the effect was still very creepy.
Mike Perbix, who deployed the spyware, features heavily in a promotional video for LANRev, but the vendor has now disavowed him:
"We discourage any customer from taking theft recovery into their own hands," said Stephen Midgley, the company's head of marketing, in an interview Monday. "That's best left in the hands of professionals."

I've watched the 50 minute screencast repeatedly, where Perbix describes his use of this feature outside of school grounds repeatedly during a conversation with Absolute Software employees. They were enthusiastic... now they're throwing LMSD under the bus? I believe this can best be described as intense PR spin. It also completely confirms what I've asserted here, that LANRev was the implant of choice for this school.

The Spy at Harriton High (Thanks, RikChik!)


  1. I’m sure disabling the camera wasn’t allowed but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t possible. It doesn’t take a lot of hacking skill to find a piece of masking tape.

    1. “It doesn’t take a lot of hacking skill to find a piece of masking tape.”

      There’s a quote in the article from a student that says he thought people who did just that were just being paranoid. Clearly they were not told of the true extent of the monitoring.

      This whole thing parallels Cory’s “Little Brother” so much it isn’t even funny. I thought it was supposed to be a cautionary tale, not a description of reality.

      1. The school district didn’t need to install any software to create a risk for students that the laptops could be used to record images or sounds. The software that the district installed made it much easier for that to happen, and specifically, made it much, much easier for the district itself to initiate such recording.

        I wish that people could distinguish between capabilities and actual usage/abuse. Commenters here and on other blogs continue to express outrage about what happened here, even though almost none of us, at this time, really know what actually happened here.

        My daughter attends Harriton, my step-daughter attends LM, the other high school in the district. The level of hyperbole over this case continues to amaze me.

        1) Should the school district have *not* issued laptops to students at all?
        2) If they didn’t, or made it optional, should they allow student laptops onto the school network?
        3) If they did issue them, should they make an effort to limit losses via theft?
        4) Should such efforts include the ability to remotely initiate image capture with the webcam? If not, what other technology should have been used?
        5) Has the ability to remotely initiate image capture been abused?

        My answers: 1) I’m not sure, because I have reservations about the use of computers as a ubiquitous part of grade school education (2) no (3) yes (4) no (5) I don’t know, and I don’t believe that anyone on boingboing or other blogs knows either, at this point in time.

          1. I don’t see how you can make that conclusion. We don’t know very much at all about the circumstances over the alleged image capture of the student whose family filed the lawsuit. We don’t even know for sure if there even is an image of the student – the lawsuit doesn’t make clear if he was shown the image, or merely told that it existed. One story that has circulated is that the student took a “loaner” laptop home, which is a violation of the rules, and will appear as a potential theft. If the district did indeed initiate a capture from the camera, my guess is that this would come down to whether (a) the use of such a capability is legal when tracking down stolen property (b) whether they had sufficient or insufficient reason to use the capability in this instance (why not just call the student’s home, for example?). We simply don’t know.

            I’m not interested in defending the decision of the school district to use this tech for theft cases, I just am disturbed by the claims of abuse and (on some blogs) “orwellian” scheming when at this point in time, I don’t see the evidence for this. If it turns out that the capability was widely abused, I’ll be the first to condemn the district (although any settlement will simply enrich the family’s lawyers at the expense of families within the district, a detail that is often overlooked).

          2. Paul, no doubt the District’s taxpayers will take a financial hit. The administrators, and your top dollar outside counsel, will try, for self serving reasons, to string this out for as long as possible. Get the Board to offer a quick settlement, and you might get out of this for something like $100 K. let them drag it out, and the bill could run to 7 figures.

        1. “The school district didn’t need to install any software to create a risk for students that the laptops could be used to record images or sounds”

          True, trojans have been doing that for some time already. However the school district installed software specifically for this purpose and then both downplayed its use and allegedly lied about usage (the camera glitches in the linked article.)

          “even though almost none of us, at this time, really know what actually happened here.”

          We know what is alleged to have happened and we know that they had the capability to do what they have been accused of. Many of us would argue that even having the capability to perform this kind of spying is going to far. To give the power to monitor people undetected is to invite abuse.

          They would have been better off giving out a free Kensington lock with every laptop.

          1. forkboy, i certainly agree that the district should not have had this capabilility, and i hope that it will be removed (not just “shut down” as they have currently done). i still believe that there is a big difference between them having the capability and knowing that they actually abused it.

            knowing what is alleged seems close to useless to me. i have no reason to believe or disbelieve the family in this instance any more than i believe or disbelieve the school district. has the district “downplayed” the use of the capability, or have they reported accurately on their use of it? we don’t know, and we won’t find out until more investigations occur.

            i want to be more clear … look, my kids are in this district. i know about the camera “malfunctions”. i don’t like the idea of school district employee grabbing shots of my daughters in their bedrooms anymore than anyone else does, and if that is what has happened, i’ll be mad as hell. but i also don’t like people gathering around some notion that what happened here was some kind of orwellian scheme to monitor students, that district employers are evil people … when we don’t know enough to make any judgements. lets wait till the FBI, the lawyers etc. reveal more about what has really taken place, and then we can render our judgements more appropriately.

            i’m also increasingly upset by the realization that this lawsuit will benefit the lawyers involved much more than it will bring any benefits to my kids, my neighbours (and their kids) or the township where we live.

          2. By using your logic someone could install several cameras in your home ready to capture images. You would just have to trust them that they won’t. Sorry, but if the capability is there it’s just a matter of time before it is abused.

          3. “Sorry, but if the capability is there it’s just a matter of time before it is abused.”

            How does this fit into a framework of rational legal justice? I’ve already acknowledged that (a) I think the choice of technology to mitigate loss through theft was a dumb idea and (b) the district should have told us about this capability. But if capability has been abused, that is an extremely serious thing. I therefore find handwaving arguments like “its just a matter of time before it is abused” to be pretty scary. Either there was abuse, or there wasn’t. Either way the technology should be replaced, but “its just a matter of time before it is abused, therefore we will verbally condemn the school district now, before we actually know if it was abused” seems to me to be a dangerous and silly position to adopt.

          4. I think the fact that a remote picture was taken at all is an indication that it was abused. The only way that such surveillance could be done legally is with the person’s informed consent (and a person under 18 can’t consent — they require a parent’s consent) or with a warrant. So far, it sounds like parents weren’t informed of this nor did they give their consent, but also that this wasn’t an action performed by an officer in an ongoing investigation in possession of a warrant. If neither of these cases was so, it was illegal surveillance.

            Now, the rest of the questions are more ethical dilemmas than anything. There is a lot into using computers in teaching, and though I can’t point to any specific “proof” that a student having a laptop helps or hinders their learning, I think it’s fair to say that it can be useful and that a parent should be able to give their child a laptop for school use as long as it doesn’t interfere with other’s ability to learn.

            Should the school provide them? That’s a judgment call for the parents and school board to make. If the parents are happy to have their children using laptops, and if the school board believes the benefit of having a laptop is worth the cost to the board (and parents, through taxes), then why not? It doesn’t sound like anyone had an objection to the school providing laptops.

            If they didn’t provide laptops, should they allow student laptops on to their network? This time we are talking about a judgment call between security risks of user-provided laptops and the benefit of having a laptop. On the one hand, laptops could be very beneficial to the children who bring them; on the other hand, a user-supplied laptop could cause a security risk by bypassing the school’s firewalls (both in and out) and spreading malware to other computers on the network. That said, other schools do allow this with minimal cost to the school: most universities have wireless access throughout and allow you to use your own devices on them, though many require you to take certain prescribed precautions to minimize the inherent risk.

            If the school issues computers, should they be allowed to attempt to limit loss via theft? Absolutely. The laptops are their property and they have the right to do whatever they deem necessary, so long as they stay within the law. If that means chaining them to the desks or placing anti-theft tags on them with scanners at the doors, so be it. Private property is private property.

            Should they be allowed to use remote image capture to help limit loss via theft? This is an ethical dilemma that has some legal precedence. First, the ability to remotely capture images can be used for good and bad. On the good side, it could be possible to identify the whereabouts of the stolen laptop and the identity of the thief (or at least somebody who is in possession of the stolen goods). On the bad side, a camera can be used for many other things, such as spying on people, and particularly with children, can be used by sexual predators to identify and track children and to photograph them in inappropriate ways. Keep in mind, many people leave their laptop on and open at all times, likely sitting on their desk, which is in their room. The right picture at the right time could be devastating. Also, using the camera for its intended purpose — gathering evidence to locate a stolen laptop and charge somebody for the theft — must be done with careful legal oversight. It’s well established that the school should not be taking these actions themselves.

            Are there other ways to accomplish this same thing? Sure. GPS would work much better for tracking the laptop, though it has many of the same potential issues (if you can track the laptop, you can track the child who rightfully carries it). Mechanisms could be put in place to at least attempt to ensure this can only be used by police (such as making they key to access this functionality given to only specific people and with a specific procedure in place to only use it in accordance with law enforcement).

            And maybe they just don’t try to reclaim stolen laptops at all. We regularly purchase insurance against theft, loss, and damage for all sorts of things both at school and at home. I see that students were required to purchase insurance for their laptops (I assume against damage?) and this same insurance could cover theft. The school could avoid the issue altogether by making the parents responsible for the laptop, which would seem reasonable in this case.

            All in all, I hope to have imparted that I don’t see it necessary to use remote surveillance as a measure to limit theft. The technology itself doesn’t offer a lot in the way of limiting theft (a simple piece of tape can render it ineffective) and it has a great potential for abuse (photographing children in the privacy of their bedroom without their knowledge). The problem could be avoided altogether by shifting the risk either to the parents or to an insurer. Laptops could be quite useful, and I applaud the school division for supplying their students with laptops to aid them in their learning, but even small technical features like a digital camera need to be used with strict discretion. The opportunity to be secretly videotaped is scary enough to us adults when we consider it done to us, let alone being done to our children.

          5. okay we’ll give the school the benefit of the doubt. we’ll say that they just don’t like this kid and wanted to give him shit. they knew he had the computer and they lied and claimed they had photos of him doing something bad. stupid move but fine. they really didn’t.

            just the fact that the ability exists should be upsetting even you. if the camera can be activated remotely or even activates and sends out photos, your daughter is in danger of becoming the object of a pedophiles affections. does that not bother you. or are you 100% in control of the computer when it is at home and you know that it is never never opened and in your daughter’s room when she could be undressed. that there is no way, for example, that she could spend a drink on herself while working on homework and get up, without closing the computer, whip off her shirt and grab a new one and there is absolutely no way that at that moment, someone could turn on the camera to spy on her.

            even if it hasn’t happened, that it could should have you upset. and yet you don’t seem to be. you sound more like you are defending the school because no one has proven that they have done it to anyone

  2. Perhaps a lawyer can comment. Is the school taking a risk of manufacturing child porn here? I’m assuming at least some of the students are minors and at least some of them walk around in their underwear in front of their laptops without thinking about it.

  3. How long would this system have remained had the principal and faculty members been forced to undergo the same surveillance with the students and their teachers doing the monitoring?

    Whats good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

    RE: the comment above, I read before that students did put post it notes over the camera, but if they were truly being monitored, this would have landed them in trouble. So yes, you could STOP it, but could you stop it without ramifications? Officially, the answer seems to be no.

  4. It seems like it would be endangering the children if indeed the “security official” was interested in taking advantage of children. Not to mention simply the creeps who would just watch them all day long, Illegal I’m not sure, but it sure gives me the creeps *shudders*.

    If it’s not against the law, then it damnwell should be. This is borderline horror story, and definitely a horror story waiting to happen.

      1. Not sure about these Macs, but I know that a few years ago a Dell desktop running Win2k with a protected boot order could be bypassed to boot from a live CD simply by disconnecting the boot hard drive.

        Having just replaced the hard drive in an old PowerBook, however, this process may involve up to 30 minutes and the removal more than 20 phillips and Torx head screws. Not quite as simple as opening the case on a desktop and disconnecting an ATA cable and definitely not something I would recommend to anyone who would be held liable for damage to the school’s computer.


        1. the most common way I’ve seen of locking a boot order is a bios password. As macs still have cmos batteries you could probably pull it out(assuming it’s not soldered in place) which would clear the password. then it’s just boot from cd as normal given that most newer macs are intel based.

    1. “Would a live CD be enough to circumvent this?”

      I bet, yeah. Unless the spyware is in the bios or something, which I doubt. If it controls the camera, it probably needs an os.

  5. Start scanning the school administration computers for child porn video. There’s other more pertinent reasons to be able to surveil at any time without the computer user’s knowledge than theft recovery.

  6. The school’s story seems to be that it was a loaner computer and not meant to be taken off school grounds.

    However, a quote from one of the kids (from StrydeHax) :

    “We reported [the webcam light going on randomly at school and at home] multiple times, each time getting the response: “It’s only a malfunction. if you’d like we’ll look into it and give you a loaner computer.”

    Which implies the loaner computers WERE allowed off school grounds, or that students were not aware they weren’t.

    1. it seems that one could check out a computer for home use if a deposit was put down to replace it if anything happened.

      and it seems that said student did check out a computer but no one verified that his parents had paid that money thus it was deemed that he ‘stole’ it, by acting like the money had been paid when he supposedly knew it had not, but who is say if he was asked about it or if he assumed Daddy had paid. and apparently no one bothered to just call his parents and ask about it.

  7. And by encouraging them to take loaner computers (possibly knowing full well they would be taken home) providing the opportunity for the techs/admin to spy on those kids WITHIN the policy…! Sneaky. Very, very sneaky.

  8. From the comments on the YouTube excerpt Stryde Hax posted.

    “One kid never paid his insurance for the computer, thus he wasn’t allowed to take it home. However, he took it home so it was reported as stolen. Therefore it was a justified use of the program.”

    Yeah, of course. That’s a great reason to take pictures of underage kids. Failure to pay insurance.

    The excerpt

    some of the students of the school commented on the first post on this situation that their school was awesome that gave them free shinny macs, another one said that he was poor and he could not afford a laptop at all (yeah right), some of them said that the kid that sued was actually an asshole and\or using this as a means to a fat paycheck.

    turns out that the free macbooks were not so free after all and some self-righteous 14 year olds should just shut up and think a bit more.

    and why the hell kids are not allowed to bring their own laptops in class?

    1. 14-year-olds not fully understanding the entire scope of a situation (because not all of the details have been revealed) and jumping to conclusions? Say it ain’t so! Adults in the Fark discussion thread got there at least a day before them.

    2. because they wouldn’t have been set up to block things like facebook, twitter, web browsing for porn, downloading torrented movies etc. the school ones would be and would log if you tried so you could be punished for it probably.

      the fact that the system is apparently taking random photos and sending them to some server is going to nail someone for child porn. that’s probably why the school is prohibited from deleting anything, even routine purgings.

  9. I’m surprised no-one’s yet made a snarky comment linking the Mac laptops, the Big Brother tendencies of the school, and the original Apple Big Brother commercial. Perhaps I missed it.

  10. If the teachers can watch the students, the students should be able to watch the teachers. I think a fair compromise would be to enable webcam monitoring on all teachers and staff.

  11. Time to turn on Chat Roulette by default on the laptops for both students and staff. That should keep it interesting.

  12. If my kid brought home a school-issued laptop, I would have put the tape over the webcam myself. I would have informed the school that they can’t punish the child for my actions, and that I have a right to restrict all recording devices that come into my home.

  13. Why do I have a feeling the techies at the school have probably destroyed all evidence (the logs, the pics of half naked teenage girls) already?

  14. Here’s a thought…
    Most, if not all companies, have guidelines for the allowed usage of their computers and networks.
    What if the kid in question, instead of “sexting” from his cellphone, was online chatting with someone sexually and using the web cam… If their network infrastructure caught evidence of that (Which they have the full legal right to do), and the picture they presented was from the kids “chat session”, and the kid denied it to his parents and blamed the school, then this is a big to do about nothing, and the kid involved should be punished for inappropriate use of the Schools property…
    And another thought… If the laptops are for helping the kids learn, why equip them with Webcams in the first place? that is just dangling a carrot under the kids noses to get them to video chat with their friends etc, which would most likely not related to learning at all…
    Food for thought…

  15. Wow…the school should be punished big time. It is a clear invasion of privacy not to mention the endless possibilities for abuse by school’s administrators such as watching a kid in their room…unacceptable.

    On the other note if I was handed a laptop like that, Ubuntu live CD here I come :) Boot it in the comfort of your own home and the school’s spies wouldn’t even know the laptop is on, hence no punishment. Of course one could lock a bios and prevent booting from a CD, but that’s another story…

  16. As an employee of Absolute Software I wanted to direct you to our statement regarding Lower Merion School District.

    When Absolute Software purchased LANrev in December 2009, it was for the product’s computer lifecycle management capabilities. Because Absolute believes both in protecting our customers and in our managed theft recovery approach, we do not actively promote the use of the TheftTrack feature. We have slated the removal of the TheftTrack feature in an upcoming product update.

    To read more about our how our managed theft recovery service works please read the statement that we’ve posted to our blog: or visit

    Stephen Midgley
    Vice President, Global Marketing
    Absolute Software

  17. I find all this porn scare stuff discussion fascinating. Personally I think/hope it’s BS, but I have a base feeling that most people are honest, and most IT people don’t abuse their power or inside knowledge.

    1. LanRev or Absolute Management software is designed to help keep laptops and computers from walking away. It’s called ASSEST MANAGMENT. Legit Use.

    2. It’s designed to prevent or at least inform IT that someone has installed software that’s not supposed to be on the unit. Legit Use.

    3. It has a record of saving thousands of dollars each year in many school districts and corporations in the world.

    4. It is entirely possible that units that were not to be used off of the schools network would ‘call home’ to IT. You wouldn’t want them to call the police first, would you?

    5. I have read of several cases where Macbooks with cameras were stolen and the camera was turned on to take a photo of the ‘current’ user, and that photo was used to find the thief. that link is at least one, but there are more. And yes, it was turned on by the ‘owner’ but here the ‘owner’ is the school district.

    6. Absolute’s software is BIOS based. I put it on my daughter in college’s $2500 laptop. (It’s supposed to last her 4 years.) When ever it is turned on, at least once a day, if it can connect to a network it ‘calls in’ to Absolute’s servers. It’s also referred to as Lojack for Laptops. If she calls/signs in to one of their servers, and says the unit has been stolen, the next time it calls in, it will start calling in every 30 minutes or so when there is a connection. The idea being to find the IP addresses and then find from the ISP the physical location so that the unit can be recovered. Absolute works with the owner and police to get them the information they need to get a warrant.

    6. Removing the hard drive won’t work, the unit will ‘infect’ the new hard drive. When I upgraded her from Vista 32 to Win7 64, we deleted all the partitions, created new ones, formated them and installed the OS, and everything else. The unit still called in every day. Absolute likes to tell of a theft ring that infected 40+ laptops by cloning the HD of the first one or using the laptop as a ‘build’ unit.

    7. If there is a setting to make it take a snapshot ALL THE TIME when the unit is started or ONLY when NOT on the school’s lan is a key question. If it took a picture all the time, and only sent it when not on the school’s lan, I would think, that a judge might view that as a ‘proactive’ protective measure, and a lawyer will certainly present it that way.

    8. Recent Supreme Court Rulings, like in the last month, have given school districts increased search powers. If they think you have drugs you can be body searched (not for asprin, etc.) The principal can search your car parked not on school grounds if they have reason to believe you have drugs, etc. without a warrant. They can force you take down web pages if they deem the content slander, threatening or inciting violence. You can have your phone checked/confiscated for sexting, etc. I would not want to be a student at any of today’s public schools. And I’m a parent.

    9. Providing there is no porn involved and the IT guy was a nice guy, this is what will happen:

    a) the court will say that it was legal
    b) the public outcry will cause the software to be removed
    c) taxes will go up in the town to cover the future laptops that are stolen/lost and they will hire more IT people to do asset management instead of the software.
    d) some kid will use the newly-freed-from-restraint laptop it to contact a ‘real predator’ maybe using the webcam and be abducted/molested/killed the result being that the public now cries out for ‘more protection’ for their children and sues the district again for not preventing it’s usage on chats or other social networks.

  18. The real issue here is these schools pushing Macs on the students. It’s like organized religion brainwashing children to grow up sharing their same beliefs. Apples got the perfect evil strategy here, force our children to grow up using Mac so they can become fan-boys as adults.


  19. Child pornography laws really don’t come into play here. If the camera happened to snap a photo of an underaged student in some level of undress it’s not CP unless there was something lascivious about it. That’s PA law and Federal law as well. This came up just recently with that nut job PA prosecutor who threatened to charge girls simply for being photographed in bras.

    Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania said:

    “It’s not just pictures of kids that may show a little bit of flesh. It’s either got to depict sexual activity or it’s got to be some lascivious display,” he said. “If you’ve just got kids standing upright outside a shower, that’s not lascivious.”

    So folks can stop talking about CP. There are all sorts of civil invasion of privacy and *possible* criminal violations here. But no kiddie porn crimes just because (hypothetically) a camera caught someone coming out of the show. Let’s lay that to rest.

  20. I think #37 is working for Absolute Software.

    I would like to say in response to what has been posted, these computers are not private property. They are public property. They were paid for by the community with tax dollars and any and all features should have been discussed publicly before implementation. Not even the PTA was aware of the spyware, its active use, or its full capabilities and should have been.

    I feel sorry for you people in letting your rights go downward like this. #37 was saying about how school officials can act like defacto police officers and search vehicles and conduct body searches. Never should have been allowed, but you guys are lazy with defending your civil liberties and this is what you get. Of course school administrators feel that they can do whatever they want to you and your children without notice, because you’ve given them the notion that its ok.

    As for child porn #39, doesn’t masturbation fall under lascivious in PA or are things that backwards out there? We’re talking about teenagers here, most of whom do their homework in their ROOMS where its quieter than the rest of the home. Rooms in which they make-out, have sex, and masturbate in because they have a deserving sense of privacy there. You cannot rationally claim that if someone sets up monitoring software in someone’s bedroom that they have no expectation of catching a sexual act. Looks obvious to me, I hope the entire staff including Michael Perbrix goes to prison.

    They forced kids to accept this hardware over their own in the face of punishment, because they wanted to be able to spy on kids and families. There is absolutely no other reason to not allow a student to refuse the acceptance of an issued computer.

    And I’m also not buying into this B.S. PR campaign by Absolute Software. How can they state “we do not actively promote the use of the TheftTrack feature” While having Micheal Perbrix in a 50 minute promotional video stating how he uses that same feature to spy on students and loves it?

  21. Someone should be made to pay for this, and I don’t mean with their jobs. This IS the worst case scenario that privacy experts have been warning about for years.


  22. Oh my god I can’t believe the level of idiocy that people are displaying against programs like LanRev. These are an essential part of managing a large fleet of computers remotely and, like any other useful tool, have perfectly legitimate uses. This program is just like Radmin and a bunch of other programs that lets you remote into a laptop and gain control of it BY DESIGN. It isn’t spyware when the owner/administrator of the computer installs it. We have radmin on all of our laptops and desktops at my company so we can remotely repair them when something goes wrong (as well as doing remote training). Calling this spyware is just plain wrong.

    1. #43 Idiocy? RADmin doesn’t hide itself from the end workstation and isn’t designed to take webcam shots of the user or record audio secretly either. But guess what, spyware does. And so does Lanrev. Lanrev’s intent is to spy, be it criminals or anyone else. All this ‘management’ crap they’re trying to sell is just extra addons to the Tracker utility.

      You Absolute Software guys are sure acting scared with all this damage control. Afraid of getting sued to? You probably deserve it.

    2. “Oh my god I can’t believe the level of idiocy that people are displaying against programs like LanRev. These are an essential part of managing a large fleet of computers remotely and, like any other useful tool, have perfectly legitimate uses. This program is just like Radmin and a bunch of other programs that lets you remote into a laptop and gain control of it BY DESIGN. It isn’t spyware when the owner/administrator of the computer installs it. We have radmin on all of our laptops and desktops at my company so we can remotely repair them when something goes wrong (as well as doing remote training). Calling this spyware is just plain wrong.”

      ahem. Speaking as an administrator on the IT staff of an enterprise-size network, you are mistaken. The issue here was not that the tool existed, but the use of the tool. Students were monitored without consent or a “acceptable use” warning during log-in (which is the standard nowadays). In addition, students were misled as to the extent of the monitoring when they inquired.

      Furthermore, I am curious as to what benefit you find webcam photographs to be in “asset management”. How do these photographs aid in protection of the software environment? And before you go claiming “theft recovery!”, there are better tools for doing so (e.g. IP tracing) than a low-resolution photograph.

      Finally, while the software wasn’t necessarily spyware, it wasn’t on the up-and-up either. If use of a public machine is going to be monitored on a consistent basis, this is required to be stated (usually via an aforementioned acceptable policy, or at the very least a posted notice).

      So, in short, “Oh my god I can’t believe the level of idiocy that people are displaying” in support of this unnecessary product.

  23. “Recent Supreme Court Rulings, like in the last month, have given school districts increased search powers. If they think you have drugs you can be body searched (not for asprin, etc.) The principal can search your car parked not on school grounds if they have reason to believe you have drugs, etc. without a warrant. They can force you take down web pages if they deem the content slander, threatening or inciting violence. You can have your phone checked/confiscated for sexting, etc. I would not want to be a student at any of today’s public schools. And I’m a parent.”

    You are a parent and an Uninformed American to boot. Popping out a child does not mean you are more educated. Popping out children means you have had sex and popped out children.

    There is this thing called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. What it does is ensure that we as Americans are innocent until proven guilty.

    The Forth Amendment is in the Bill of rights, which was put into place because of British general warrants (called Writs of Assistance), in which the Crown would grant general search powers to British law enforcement officials. These officials could search any home they liked, at any time they liked, for any reason they liked or for no reason at all.

    Constantly living under a police state where you can be searched at any time is unconstitutional. To be searched at any time renders people powerless.

    It’s called Due Process. Due process is this thing we have so that we don’t live under an abusive government. It also means that since the school is public that the school has to adhere to the Constitution – as it’s the law.

    The law is there because governments and people in power have previously abused these rights.

    The recent ruling in regards to the school searches, this was a ruling that was already established years ago – the car in question was on the school grounds. Therefor, school rules still apply.

    The law is the law and the government (in this case the public school is a government program) still has to adhere to it. If they did /not/ adhere to the law guess what? The people who’s rights were violated win the case.

    That’s called civil liberties, and that’s called the law.

  24. I read through 3/4 of the posts here. Has any body heard of Low Jack, or something like it? It can track whatever it is attached to so it can be found weather the item it is attached to is on or off.
    Something like that seems like a easier way to find something lost or stolen. Seems better than letting people we do not know have the ability to monitor us when they deem fit.
    Who says that little light on the camera always comes on when taking a picture, and if they do can you believe them.

  25. I think BIOS password works good. its an easy procedure to install cameras at home everywhere by using a server computer as a control panel for all cameras.
    Laptop gadgets

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