Hello and welcome to the December Tech Report! I have some very important information to share with you for this month.
Mac OS 10.13 High Sierra Security Issue
On November 28th it became public there was a huge security flaw with the new Mac OS High Sierra. The issue allowed anyone to access your Mac using the Root user. Root access allows you to perform any task or access any file on a MacBook. With this bug, whenever there was a security prompt requiring administrator username and password, a hacker could simply type in root as the user without a password, click unlock, and gain access to your Mac.
This issue was dangerous because it could have given hackers access to your computer as well as made your MacBook more susceptible to Malware and Spyware.
After I was made aware of the issue and it’s severity, I quickly made an action plan to address staff affected. Knowing how quickly Apple tends to respond to issues such as this, I was not overly concerned. First thing on November 29th, I emailed staff asking them to check if they were running OS High Sierra. Those affected was asked to report to the IT office to have their Root passwords changed. This was a simple process completed through the command terminal and was the recommended workaround by Apple.
Within an hour, Apple had a security update that automatically installed on all laptops running High Sierra. I informed staff and asked them to check the app store updates for security updates and to install any that did not automatically install.
The issue was resolved quickly and nobody was affected by hackers or malware. These issues happen from time to time. If you read about an issue and aren’t sure if it affects us, forward it along and let us determine. This issue was forwarded to us by Mr. Kman. Thank you to Mr. Kman for making us aware of this issue so we could address it quickly.
I have posted about this in two previous tech reports, but I am bringing it up again due to the surge in Rogue Access Points picked up by our Hivemanager (wireless access point manager). The last week of November saw a huge increase in mobile hotspots throughout the building. Students are using their cell phones to create a mobile hotspot. This allows them to use their cell phone for wifi and give their other devices access to the internet. There are a couple issues with this:
- Students should not be using their cell phone during class.
- Connecting their iPad to a mobile hotspot is a violation of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) as they are circumventing our web filter.
Additionally, one student decided to try and mimic our guest network by creating a mobile hotspot entitled hast guest with the same password as our network. Teachers or even guests attempting to connect to our guest network could easily have connected to the wrong network. This is a technique commonly used by hackers to gain access to your devices once you connect to the clone (fake) network. Actions such as this are only taken for nefarious reasons and compromise the security of our network.
I am able to track down most of the mobile hotspots in the building based on their location and who is connecting to them. Up to this point, most students caught have been given warnings to cease and desist. Many have stopped, some have not.
From THIS POINT ON, students caught using mobile hotspots will receive severe consequences such as suspension from school or even expulsion.
Teachers, please be diligent in protecting the integrity of our network, our devices, and our policies. Students SHOULD NOT be using their cell phones in your classes to do work. There is never a need for this and every excuse or reason I have heard could have been resolved in other ways.
Tech Support Articles
Some of you may have noticed when filling out a support ticket there are a list of solutions at the bottom of the page. These consist of articles to help you troubleshoot or find an issue before the need to fill out a support ticket. Under the “MacBook” and “iPad” sections there are troubleshooting tips for dealing with common problems. The “Known Issues” section consists of various problems we are aware of and includes workarounds or solutions if those are available. These will be updated throughout the year. Please check them out if you have not done so already.
iOS 11.2 and TestNav App
Apple recently released iOS 11.2. Pearson is reviewing its overall compatibility with TestNav. Pearson plans to add support for iOS 11.2 after confirming compatibility.
Pearson currently supports iOS 11.1, which includes the fix for the issue detailed below. Please note that App Check does not work with iOS 11.1. Customers who attempt to use App Check with this iOS version must restart the device to continue testing.
Pearson recently released a TestNav patch that blocks iOS 11.0 due to the issue described in this bulletin.
So my advice is to hold off on updating to 11.2 at the moment if it can be avoided. If it cannot be avoided, I’m sure it will end up being fine.
Teachers, it is very important for the filters on the side of your projectors to be cleaned regularly. In the past I have always left this up to the teachers and encouraged them to clean every so often. Last week, we had a projector overheat and begin emitting a burning smell because the filter was so badly clogged with dust. This can cause your projector to break as well as poses a fire risk. Additionally, last week we cleaned all filters with compressed air and will begin doing this monthly to prevent any such issues. With many of you receiving new projectors in the last year or two, we want to extend their lifespan as long as possible.
7th Grade iPad Cases
7th Grade students ARE NOT to take the screen protectors off their cases. All new cases come without screen protectors because of the highly beveled edges. The screen protector is not necessary to prevent breaks from normal wear, tear, and drops. The cases purchased for 7th grade last year are meant to work with a screen protector and are ineffective in preventing damage if taken off.
Students caught without a screen protector will be responsible for paying the $55 to replace the case.
Support Ticket Breakdown
Just as predicted November was a slow month for support tickets. The biggest areas requiring support involved apps and PowerSchool. Most of the app tickets involved the need for an app to be installed on an iPad or an app not working properly. Wifi support tickets dipped down tremendously, confirming the issue with staff wifi has been resolved. Last year we had a number of iPad Display/Hardware tickets every month due to the age of our iPads. This year, this number has dropped tremendously thanks to the new iPads. December will most likely continue to be a slow month.
Missing iPads November
Missing or lost iPads rose quite a bit in November to 11. This is the highest number in a couple years. While this number is high, all were recovered. Staff, please send lost iPad emails to all staff. High School students have classes and lunch on the first floor. It is entirely possible for iPads to be picked up by Middle School staff or by administration.
Insurance Claims November
Insurance claims were once again low in November. Please continue to follow procedures and pay your deductibles to get your iPad replaced.
- Please remember to fill out a support ticket when needing support. We receive too many emails a day to sort through support emails. Support tickets go into a spreadsheet for us making it easier to stay organized. Do not send students down to our office!
- If you have a broken iPad, please pay your deductible to receive a replacement. You will need your device to take NWEA and/or ISTEP, as well as to complete your school work.
- Please remember your internet searches are monitored through our web filter. While we do not sit and watch the web filter all day, reports let us know any suspicious searches and any inappropriate websites accessed. This works no matter where your iPad is connected…school or home.