This post is meant as a warning to IT directors and school administrators in schools with 1-to-1 iPad implementation (especially if the students can take their iPads home).
There is some Chinese software going around call Tongbu which can allow iPad owners to bypass the built-in app store to acquire apps. Not only is this illegal and unethical, but it also opens up a huge security hole for any school trying to monitor the apps on their students’ iPads. These illegal installs do not require a jailbroken iPad and can occur on supposedly secure school iPads.
You can see a walkthrough of the process here. Now, obviously, I am not posting this in order to encourage theft. Stealing apps is illegal and incredibly insulting to the (mostly) small development teams that work so hard to create many of these apps. However, if you are going to patch up this security flaw at your school, you need to know how the flaw works.
We just did a post on iPad filtering, so refer to it for an in-depth walkthrough of different filtering options. But basically be sure to do the following steps:
- Be sure your students’ iPads are being supervised by Configurator.
- Be sure that Configurator and Meraki are set to NOT allow iPads to be connected to other computers.
- Do a Google search for “Tongbu” and add every website on the first page of results to your internet filtering at your school (and, if possible, add “*tongbu*” as a blocked term altogether). Also, block the URL to that Youtube video I posted above.
- Add these same blocked URLs and *tongbu* to your Weblock proxy attached to all the students’ iPads so this stuff is blocked outside of school as well.
- And of course, enforce strict and severe disciplinary repercussions if you find any students that have still managed to work around all these security settings to install apps they shouldn’t have.
There are other services that offer this same feature. Do some research, hunt them down, and block them all!