By Rishi Sharma, Tahreem Niazi, and Deepakshi Rawat
News Editor and Staff Reporters
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement has taken DAA by storm. The installation of a Mobile Device Management (MDM) software called MaaS360 will be required in order to stay connected to the BYOD. This software allows the school’s IT office to reserve access to data on the device on which the software is installed. This gives birth to many privacy concerns among students and parents at DAA.
The DAA student body has made a petition in the hopes of abolishing the new internet policy; teachers and students embrace this trend with equal vigor, leaving it to the IT department to try and catch up with the school’s security issues and privacy concerns.
Most of the students will be participating in the BYOD program. By installing the software, we are unwittingly permitting the IT department to perform an assortment of actions, such as installing apps, wiping data, monitoring usage and collecting personal information.
According to Robert Sheldon, a technical consultant and freelance technology writer, any MDM system requires at least some access to user’s personal information, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the school can access contacts, installed applications including social media, and browser history.
That is not to imply that the IT department, or anyone in the school, necessarily wants to access users’ personal information. In many cases, management and legal departments are just as interested as teachers and students in keeping users’ personal information private because of possible legal ramifications. For example, if a school were to discover that a student was involved in an illegal activity, would the school be required to take action?
Mrs. Tammy Murphy, DAA’ superintendent, spoke to The Pawprint and said, “The primary motive behind implementing the MaaS360 software is the security of our campus. We can definitely enable security and antivirus on our servers but with the different types of devices and viruses that are created everyday it is difficult to ensure complete safety of our servers from infected devices that join our network using the Unsecured Guest Wi-Fi.” She added, “An MDM solution allows us to see if a device is infected with malware, ransomware or antivirus and we will be able to isolate and disable network access for this device. This will also ensure that our network remains safe and also it won’t let the virus infect other devices on our network.”
The major concern for the majority of the student body is that the new WiFi system that is being implemented legally allows the school to track the internet activity of connected devices both at school and at home. Many students see this as a privacy breach. Prior to moving into this campus, the school used a WiFi system that required students to use a specific ‘ID’ that is special for each student. Though this allowed the IT administrator to view one’s internet activity, it could only be done when the student is connected to the school’s WiFi network. As a result, being connected to any other WiFi immediately restricts the IT administrator to further view the student’s internet activity. In that case, the privacy of the student is secured when they’re at home, at Starbucks, or quite literally every place other than the school. Moreover, MaaS360 does not just track internet activity, but it also reserves access to all files stored on the device, which was another element that was not present in previous ‘ID’ WiFi system.
Due to these various privacy concerns, it is clear why students are hesitant on the thought of this software. However, DAA’s IT administration has listed some features of the software that may be beneficial for students.
- Effortless Device Management – MaaS360 grants an uncomplicated device management to a company’s IT department. With the software, all the devices can be monitored from one place and overseen remotely from the air. And because of this MDM, schools can support BYOD, allowing their employees and students to work on any device they want. This raises their productivity, as they are able to perform tasks on devices they are most familiar with without compromising security.
- Rapid App Deployment – With MaaS360, schools are able to manage applications. They can encourage the use of selected apps, dispense those among users, and update them when needed. In addition, this app ensures that school data is encrypted and kept separate from other apps.
- Secure Solution – Since the MDM looks at the activity of the students, the app can tell about unusual activities. For example, if a student bullies someone through the means of the internet, the MDM application can quickly help find out who the student was and the teachers can take strict action against that student.
- Location Tracking – MaaS360 allows the IT administrator to monitor the location of the device it is installed it. Although this does not sound appealing, this feature can be very helpful if a device is lost. Considering how expensive some devices may be, this may be a useful tool. Note that feature is optional, i.e. students can disable this feature if they want to.
- Remote Wipe – As stated before, MaaS360 can manage applications and reserve full access to personal data on the device. If the device is lost, students have the option to request the IT administrator to wipe all data from the device, thus securing the student’s privacy.
Regardless of the benefits that come along with the new policy, there is more worry than joy in the minds of the students. Out of a 158 high school students surveyed, only 1 student was in support of the policy. Santiago Suarez, a senior, says “I think one of the main problems with this is that all the pros are mostly for the school, as in the staff. But all the cons are for us. I agree that some features are beneficial, but on the grand scale, I value my privacy over all those other features.”
As far as the school is concerned, they do not really need to intrude upon the students’ privacy. They, however, do reserve access to doing so, which is essentially the source of worry for the students. What do you think about this policy? Let us know in the comments below.