My school gave everyone Macs that were sealed in the box and everything. From what I’ve seen so far, the root certificate hasn’t been tampered with. Can they see my https web history? Can laptops have monitoring software preinstalled to decrypt before being placed in the manufacturing box?

Also, my personal Apple ID is on the computer and I realized some of my phone searches (not on their network) were syncing to my laptop. Can they see or decrypt my iCloud Safari data web history because of the sync with my phone? It is stated that files and messages stored on the Mac are not private.

Also, school email and data over their network of computers can be seen and there are antivirus and firewall software installed. Nothing about web monitoring was noted.

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    If it still had the manufacturer's seal, odds are it probably wasn't tampered with. Though it's difficult to be sure, there's nothing in this question to suggest that they would have any capability to snoop on you beyond that which would normally occur while connected to your school's WiFi and Email servers. That makes this question a little difficult to answer. Have you tried simply asking whoever arranged for you to use this computer if anything non-standard was pre-installed? They may not answer honestly... but if there's something intentionally installed, they might tell you.
    – nbering
    Jan 21, 2019 at 4:43
  • That does not sound atypical for a computer owned by an organization. If you’re concerned about information leaking from your phone through your Apple ID, don’t link it to the computer. Use the device for what it’s intended and I’m sure you’ll have no issue. But if someone else owns the computer, you shouldn’t have any expectation of privacy and generally speaking your right to such privacy is limited in most jurisdictions because it’s not your computer.
    – nbering
    Jan 21, 2019 at 5:39
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    These are all separate questions. Please keep to a single question at a time as per Stack Exchange guidelines.
    – nbering
    Jan 21, 2019 at 5:54
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    How did the firewall and anti-virus get installed?
    – schroeder
    Jan 21, 2019 at 8:04
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1 Answer 1


Supply chain interdiction is thought to be a capability only reachable for APTs. I doubt your school has the capability to do this, unless they have a basement with a bunch of hairdryers and shrink wrap...

If they did, than a bunch of files on the file system would have been created or modified. A recursive search for all executables sorted by modified should show you if some executables have timestamps that stand out form those installed with the original image. If you’re interested in what command could show that info leave a comment. That would be a separate question but I’d help you figure it out.

However, last time I checked it was free to reinstall the OS on Mac devices. If you’re like me you reinstall everything from bare metal. https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/reinstall-macos-mchlp1599/mac

It sounds like you are aware the school could inspect anything you do on their network and email services. That is correct. You should not have an expectation of privacy when using their services. You may want to set your iOS devices to sync via the USB cable to prevent sync over LAN. Tunneling protocols could help, but that’s getting into another subject.

Maybe review the paperwork you signed when you completed orientation... If your school is wiretapping communications to students by deceptively handing out computers ladened with spyware... or intercepting communications between syncing devices... That would be quite a news story.

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    I think it is possible for the IT staff that preconfigured/tampered the device to redo the shrink wrap as an SOP. This could be as a simple measure to prevent further tampering while the device is shipped from the facility where they preconfigured it to the time you received it. Unless OP worked for Apple or for the tampering facility OP might not notice the difference between manufacturer shrink wrap and the school's shrink wrap.
    – Lie Ryan
    Jan 22, 2019 at 9:56

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