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Recently my school started a program which allowed us to bring our own laptops to school. Previously we were given laptops (owned by the school) to use.

I'm still currently using the laptop given by the school and it will have to be returned next year therefore I have to buy my own laptop (which has to be a apple device) to use.

Currently my sister is using her own laptop to use at the school I go to. I have gone to the IT guy's to get the laptop connected to the internet. Then I seemed to have noticed that they were installing something on it. They told me to enter in the admin password of the computer into the terminal. After that the laptop was connected to the school network without the need of entering the wifi password.

According to the note my sister was given about the program the school started, there was this part of it that intrigued me.

"We will need to install software known as the "Recon Package" to enable automatic network configuration as well as the installation of school owned software required by students in different subjects."

The "Recon Package" seems to be very likely related to JAMF Software. This "Recon Package" was installed on the Macs that the school has provided us which I find acceptable but for them to install it on our personal devices, I find very unusual and suspicious.

I can tell you now that this is extremely misleading since I was able to successfully connect to the school network on my phone and a different version of OSX running on a different partition (I do know the SSID and password) without the need of the required software and they never used this software to install software on the mac. I have also figured out how to remove it but if I do my sister would get the risk of getting caught.

I have also noticed that they have renamed the mac's hostname.

They have also installed a certificate to get rid of the annoying SSL errors that pop up when attempting to access a webpage.

So to conclude, Should I install this software on the Mac I intend to use next year? What privacy concerns should I be worried about?

  • Can you add some links and / or give more details what this software is actually doing? Also, what 'type' of certificate is being installed and in what store is it put? – LvB Mar 1 '16 at 10:15
  • Do they restrict the websites you can access from within the school network? – user1751825 Mar 1 '16 at 12:23
  • They would likely track and log all requests from within their network. However I very much doubt they would have the resources, or inclination to attempt to monitor what you do on your laptop when you're at home. – user1751825 Mar 1 '16 at 12:29
  • Yes, they do restrict websites within the school network. They don't seem to block popular streaming sites and social networking sites sites though. @user1751825 – mclarence Mar 1 '16 at 20:02
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They have also installed a certificate to get rid of the annoying SSL errors that pop up when attempting to access a webpage.

This indicates that they're running an HTTPS man-in-the-middle proxy - any data you send over the network (including passwords, even if you've got the green padlock) can be read by your network admins, and often the proxy server will not verify the certificate provided by the remote server, so you may be in danger of getting MITMed by an attacker and not noticing. Similar to the recent Lenovo Superfish scandal, if you want to read more on why this is bad.

I wouldn't use the network for anything remotely private unless my traffic was going through an extra VPN, and I didn't have their certificate installed.

This is before you look into what the actual software package does:

  • inventory hundreds of objects, including Mac addresses, serial numbers, and purchasing information for each computer

  • Email notifications for administrators on restart and backup actions

  • CMDB/syslog compliant

At least they don't claim it includes a keylogger...

  • Normally if a network is running a https proxy, it would also have a pre-approved list of websites that can be accessed, for which their CA server provides certificates. This is common in corporate networks, so I assume the same would apply for a school.. – user1751825 Mar 1 '16 at 12:27

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