Unhackable Netbooks given to students


Where would be the best place to test out an unhackable netbook? The NSW department of education in Australia thinks that college is perfect . They plan on distributing netbooks, preloaded with Windows 7,and iTunes. They also have bios level tracking and security, allowing them to be remotely shut down on command. With 20,000 of these in circulation, we would think that we’ll see someone proving the “unhackable” statement wrong. We can only hope.

[via slashdot]

284 thoughts on “Unhackable Netbooks given to students

  1. wtf! come on! we just had a few articles about flashing the bios with a serial interface!

    Thats the top level jou can hack, nothing above that watches you(exept for real people like teatchers)

    ofcourse we can hack this:
    if you can unsolder it, its hackable!

  2. @Collin. That’s because nnx didn’t hear me flick on the Weller :) Also GPS and GSM is so much fun with SDR and USRP. As if RF was ever uncompromisable… And RFID, it’s a riot! I thaught I’d never say this on the net, but right now I’m actually laughing out loud.

  3. Hackproof? I’d like one of these. To try, of course.

    Step 1. Open case
    Step 2. Erase BIOS settings

    Step 4. Profit!

    Ok, on a more serious note, the adage of physical security being your last line of defense? That still stands true here. Even with ‘exploding dye packs’, all it would take is for one person to open theirs up, study where the dyepack *was* (since it exploded), and figure out how to open one without setting it off.

    All you need to do is open the case, and you’ve got direct access to a reprogrammable hard drive, a flashable BIOS, and probably even a JTAG header and/or debug port for the really serious.

  4. These aren’t actually being distributed in college but in high school, after they leave high school hte netbooks are unlocked but still tracked.

    We have about a hundred arriving in our school’s IT department in about a month, and we already have a team of 20 eager students trying to find a way of unlocking them. We’ve ordered 20 extra and students are encouraged to find any way to make these function as laptops that… y’no, could be of use to education.

    Also, some have already been shipped for staff with a beta version of Windows 7. :|


  5. You know.. I think they think it is a game. I also think it is the most stupid thing on earth. If you haven’t noticed.. almost ANYTHING is hackable. Even with Windows 7… which is probably even worse then Windows Vista to work with and figure out.. trust me I have Windows Vista and some things are not as easy as they say they are.

    Anything with a simple internet hook up, or even wi-fi can be hacked. So.. good look in the whole.. “Unhackable” affair you guys.

    @ aztraph – your right, I bet you anything someone will be landing a high paying job for hacking into the stupid system. LOL.

  6. Anything can be hacked, everything can be tracked. So many still think they can circumvent the tracking and tracing controls and most of them are full of hot air.

    Anyhow, un-hackable is a bullshit term and that’s been proven time after time, so I await the inevitable Hack-a-Day post about that, in the meantime… I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t just a form of legal bot-netting… or soon will be. 20k netbooks on autopilot could do some serious computing.

  7. “the most hostile place for a computer on earth – the local high school.” that just shows you they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. anyone with any sense know defcon is the most hostile place on earth for a computer. I’m sure they’ve already been hacked apart and the story just hasn’t been posted yet.

  8. It has BIOS level remote managment. I know ASLR and NX on the OS level. Someone will make a tutorial and software flasher most likely. You gotta patch the BIOS, and remove the RDID. You could probably fix the OS monitoring if any exists.

  9. Mate, the NSW gov is just bonkers. Even the TAFE network is full of holes. We used to shut down eachothers PCs remotely for fun. As for the dye packs (if they exist in these things) just chucking them in the freezer should take care of that.

    Humm, makes me want to go back to school. Doubt the’d let me though, lol.

  10. lol, windows 7 – “unhackable”. it was barely out of beta and had two huge exploits. making something unhackable is impossible, especially if it’s a closed source piece of shit like windows.

  11. this reminds me of the bulletproof vest thing.

    bulletproof vests aren’t bullet proof – they are bullet RESISTANT. meaning: a good soft vest can take a 9mm slug and a barrage of .22s no problem, but if you put a 12 gauge slug anywhere near that thing it’s gone.

  12. These “unhackable” netbooks are easily defeated by doing a Bios update using a bios version from a similar model not released for these purposes. Done. GPS won’t even be recognized, OS can be nuked and no remote administration can be done. It’s more hot air than anything else. Almost all of the netbooks can have their bios reflashed from thumbdrives.

  13. First they give your kids these controlled laptops. Next they ban your kids from using their own laptops. Next they start loading up the laptops up with Government indoctrination material your kids are required to learn. Voila – in a generation you have New Venezuela instead of New South Wales.

  14. Being one of the students who will be recieving the laptops this week, I bet someone will hack them.

    If you guys are interested, I can put up a blog/image gallery/whatever and post info and pictures of the laptops.

    Happy Hacking!

  15. @max you want to give us a url ?
    im with the rest of you guys.

    dye pack ? freeze laptop

    flash bios. install *nix … reuse gps and gsm as i would imagine there doing the tracking in software

    the first student to load osx on one of these. hell ill buy you a coke

  16. I hate how they veiw hacking like its a bad thing. Hell I’ll be laughing my ass off when every single on of those networks gets tripped by false positives….it’ll almost top the xbox360’s rod. lol

  17. Pahlease even MS says if you have physical access it is game over. They probably have application whitelisting, but Rootkit, bootkit, and that is gone, even if the bios is locked and the OS is only application whitelisted, simply backup the os and hack it in a VM to get the local admin password etc.
    I don’t think they are making the hardware really unhackable, just hard… oh noes security torx where oh where will I get them from, I don’t think they are going die-packs or even case opened switches.
    With such a large userbase it will be moments before they are broken.

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