School putting Firmware Passwords on students' property

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Cryosim, Feb 11, 2015.

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  1. Cryosim macrumors newbie

    Cryosim

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2014
    #1
    Hello,
    Some of you may know me from the "Computer Reset" thread, if not, please search for that and read it. It will explain a lot of this.

    What they did last time was questionable.

    But now they've crossed a line.

    They're putting Firmware Passwords on students' MacBook Pros WHICH THEY PAID FOR.

    What should I do? This isn't just affecting me, it's affecting the whole school!

    Regards,
    Cryosim
    Troubled Student
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Location:
    Inside
    #2
    Ask your IT department. There's nothing MacRumors can do about it.
     
  3. Freyqq macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2004
    #3
    Do they tell you the firmware password? I suppose you could avoid this by setting a firmware password yourself in advance?
     
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #4
    We can't do anything about it, but you can:

    1. Set an EFI password of your own in advance
    2. Complain to the administration
    3. File a lawsuit
     
  5. duervo, Feb 11, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015

    duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    #5
    It may seem somewhat draconian at first glance (especially with the way that you are reacting here), but looking at it from the perspective of the school's IT department, it does start to make sense to me.

    Doing this prevents a student from doing things to the laptop that would otherwise pose a support nightmare for the IT personnel. Note: things like this are normally brought about by students abusing the trust that the IT manager feels has been given to the students. I suspect students tinkering with their laptops and then not knowing how to fix has become to be a nuisance for the staff there, so they have taken steps to address it.

    Doing this also has the positive side-affect of protecting your laptop in case it's lost or stolen.

    Nevertheless, what they are doing, while it may not necessarily be the norm that you are used to, is quickly becoming (or has already become) the norm for any organization that has adopted a BYOD strategy.

    My advice? Learn to live with it. Life is too short to be so upset about something that, at the end of the day, isn't much of a big deal to worry about. If the time comes where your days at school come to end (for whatever reason), go to them and have them remove the password. If they refuse, then you have a reason to get upset.

    BTW, any lawsuit from this, while you are still a student there, would be a good example of the term "frivolous," and if it ever makes it before a judge, you'll probably just end up pissing off that judge.
     
  6. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #6
    Based on the OP's previous posts I can see why the school wants to lock them down.
     
  7. Cryosim thread starter macrumors newbie

    Cryosim

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2014
    #7
    Reply

    My computer is already fully protected with an EFI password. Any Hong Kong lawyers here, please provide information on the legality of this. I also have remote tracking software installed on it. (Prey)
     
  8. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
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    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #8
    I think you'd better take it up to the Bar Council.

    Afaik, there's a few law offices around Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok.
     
  9. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #9
    Why is it a problem? How will this affect your schoolwork in a negative way? Seems like they're simply stopping students from futzing around inside the gubbins so all the students are on a level playing field.

    I'm sure once you've graduated they'll be happy to unlock it. What'll they do if you don't let them lock it?

    PS lawyers are very expensive. Much cheaper just to buy a 2nd MacBook from an Apple store and do whatever you please with it.
     
  10. Cryosim thread starter macrumors newbie

    Cryosim

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2014
    #10
    Reply

    I use this MacBook as a work machine and dual-boot into Windows and Ubuntu. With a firmware password this would be impossible.

    We are also almost broke, so buying another one would be out of the question.
     
  11. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #11
    A work machine? I thought you were in school?

    Then how would you expect to afford a lawyer? If those OS's were required by your school I'm sure they'd install them.

    If you feel the need to play with Ubuntu and or Windows and you're on a budget the recently announced $35 RaspberryPi 2 can run Linux and seems like a version of Windows 10.

    Colleges often allow only certain calculators to prevent cheating and keeping exams fair. It would appear your school is doing the same thing.
     
  12. SlCKB0Y macrumors 68040

    SlCKB0Y

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #12
    I worked whilst I was at school.

    Your fantastic suggestion assumes the following:

    1. That he doesn't need anything more than a pitiful amount of RAM (1GB)
    2. That he doesn't need a CPU that even remotely approaches desktop standard.
    3. That he is happy running his OS from a slow SDCARD.
    4. That he doesn't need any other sort of fast directly attached storage (USB2)
    5. That he is happy using only the very small selection of Linux distros which will run on RPi
    6. That he does not require any x86 software.

    How is this even remotely the same thing. The stipulation on calculators (at least in my experience) has only even been during the actual exam and this isn't a throw-away $50 calculator, it's a laptop costing thousands of dollars.

    Are you purposefully being obtuse?

    How about the best reason of all, that it is HIS property

    ----------

    Why are you sure? What if they don't? What if they don't adequately protect the password and they lose it?

    ----------

    No, it doesn't make any sense for them to forcefully do this to student property.

    Firstly, you're assuming the school is providing some form of support. Secondly, a simple "if you do not allow your firmware to be password protected your laptop becomes completely unsupported by school technicians" clause would be completely sufficient.

    ----------

    I think if he is using it for work it doesn't qualify as needing to "play" around with Linux.

    ----------

    Get your parents involved - You will need their support if you defy the school. Explain the situation to your school about needing the MBP for non-school activities and explain that you do not expect, nor will you request any support of any kind from the school for the laptop.

    If all else fails, just refuse.
     
  13. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #13
    We're assuming it's his personal property. It may be on loan from the school. We also don't know what school or contract or whatnot are the terms for its use. e.g. The Hong Kong International School supplies MacBook Pros to their students on their 1:1 program, other schools may offer similar programs but generally it's considered school property until graduation.

    I've been on enough forums to know that some people will say anything to get what they want or desire. Does the OP need Windows or Ubuntu for his school curriculum? probably not.
     
  14. SlCKB0Y macrumors 68040

    SlCKB0Y

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #14
    And yet you (presumably an adult) think that it is OK to imply negative things about the character of a school-aged child on a public forum based only on a few of their posts? Shame on you... bully them some more why don't you.

    So your way is better is it? The OP should just disregard any notion of respect of personal property and never question authoritarian figures and join the apathetic masses.....

    ----------

    No, they stated that it is their property. Your assumption should be that it is. You should not automatically assume that they are lying or misinformed (which is what you are doing) because you have absolutely no reason to.

    ----------

    Sorry OP, one more to the blueroom's list of life lessons, assume that everyone is lying about everything all the time.
     
  15. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
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    #15
    And therein lies the rub.

    The OP because he disagrees with it, wants to bypass the system lockdown that the school's IT department is somehow forcing on him.

    There's more to the story and it's not me being obtuse.
     
  16. SlCKB0Y macrumors 68040

    SlCKB0Y

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    #16
    Maybe there is, but the OP has given me no reason to doubt them. :confused:

    Maybe i'm naive....
     
  17. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Auckland
    #17
    In previous posts the OP stated "the hacking at school has got out of hand". So not a slight on the OP's character but just a reference to what the OP had put in a previous post.

    OP had also stated that the machines were purchased by the school (he referred to proof of purchase being with the school). Whether title has currently passed to the students should be able to be clarified, but having been asked to clarify that, OP didn't.

    The only explanation I can see fitting the statements as presented is that the school purchases the machines, then charges the parents a fee equivalent to the purchase, then likely title passes to the student at the end of the course.

    School then retains the rights to the machine during the period they are responsible for it. That explains their actions and OP's statements in full. No conspiracy theory needed.

    With the increasing focus on copyright infringement this is a course increasingly common in education establishments world-wide, as such infringement is normally identified as far as a public ip address, owners of such public ip addresses need to control the activities of the LAN-side machines as they will be liable for such infringement.

    OP doesn't like it, that is his right, but it would be easy to absolutely clarify by talking to the school. OP doesn't refer to having his parents support or otherwise in this but it should be easy for them to find out on what basis they paid the required fee.
     
  18. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
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    #18
    Some schools offer a 1:1 laptop program. They are loaners and require participants to pay a yearly insurance fee. They do not allow any non authorized software to be installed.
    http://crescentok.com/hs/1to1.htm#faq2

    I don't know of any school or collegiate that mandates what you can have on your PC or what you do with it. They may require you to have certain software to meet course requirements but that's it. The only thing I've seen is MAC address lockdown so you can't turn the dorm's WiFi into a personal Minecraft server or share the WiFi on non student devices.

    Now Hong Kong might be very different.

    The OP needs to answer how does their school enforce that policy?

    PS these bypass the school password type threads are nothing new.
     
  19. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
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    #19
    Same as the OP`s last post, it`s obviously school policy and likely the Notebook is tied to the school and or must meet school IT policy, so nothing new here.

    OP`s choice is simple if he/she wants full ownership and autonomy on the computer he/she needs to buy a second system or live within the schools IT policy. Same like most work related computers, network Admin`s lock them down for good reason. I consult and have the freedom to use what I want, equally there are frequently restrictions, mostly related to security & piracy...

    We work internationally and all the schools my kids went to, and still go to have IT policies and doing whatever you want with them isn't on the list. Likely the school is closing the loops as the tolerance for copying/piracy in China is dropping and the school wants to ensure compliance.

    Q-6
     
  20. Cryosim, Feb 12, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015

    Cryosim thread starter macrumors newbie

    Cryosim

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2014
    #20
    Reply

    The school at which I study is confidential but I can tell you my MacBook Pro was BOUGHT OUTRIGHT and not loaned from the school in any way, shape, or form. Here's my plan:

    A. Try to compromise with school staff
    B. Not bring laptop to school / refuse
    C. Contact Lawyer

    Protection methods so far: EFI password, FileVault encryption, offsite backup, cloud backup, and complex password. :)

    SICKB0Y, thank you for taking the time to reply with lengthy posts. I'm very grateful for your support. :)

    One other thing: Once I was looking at the IT administrator's computer and I could see a list of computer serials / computer hostnames. This interface looked Apple-branded as well. Insurance or something? I can confirm it wasn't to do with a domain. He also mentioned something about a "system image being installed monthly".
     
  21. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
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    #21
    School is confidential, yep okay.

    Go with plan B, leave your computer at home.
     
  22. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #22
    Set your own EFI password and tell them to go **** themselves. I'm serious. They no right to do that if the computer is yours.
     
  23. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #23
    What do you mean its confidential. You signed a NDA when you were accepted there :confused:

    If its there rules and their network, your only viable option is not to take your laptop to school, or buy a cheap computer that has no ability for firmware passwords and run your own copy of an OS, like Linux in which the IT staff may not be able to deal with.
     
  24. chabig macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2002
    #24
    You should run those operating systems in virtual machines without dual booting.
     
  25. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

    Joined:
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    #25
    Smart Move; Then the OP will be suspended or very least not able to use the network. The school has every right to guard it`s network and like as not the computer is tied to the school, be it paid or not.

    OP simply does not want to conform, as his use is outside of the curriculum, like I say if you want complete exclusivity you need a system with no ties, which is obviously not the case here, educational institutions don't generally pull random stunts especially this side of the world.

    Q-6
     
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