Building the 'unhackable' netbook network

By on September 28, 2009, 10:15 AM
The NSW Department of Education (Australia) is in the process of rolling out a plan to give some 240,000 Lenovo netbooks to high school students over the next four years. Referred to as "the most hostile environment you can roll computers into", the netbooks will use a combination of hardware and software tracking technology to keep the network of computers under control.

The Windows 7 Enterprise powered machines will have 2GB of RAM and a six-hour battery, along with productivity software like Microsoft Office, the Adobe CS4 suite (good luck running that smoothly on the Atom platform), Apple iTunes and other content geared to students. It's mentioned that Windows 7 plays a very significant role due to its security and built-in features like the AppLocker and the System Center Configuration Manager, used to restrain what software is installed on the machines and to distribute updates wirelessly to the devices. Additionally the netbooks will carry passive RFID tags and other security implemented at the BIOS level. This in case the netbook is lost or stolen, it can be remotely disabled.

All in all, sounds like a promising scheme despite the enforced restrictions. One word of advice: Touting anything as unhackable is never a good place to start (although in all fairness there is no direct quote calling the plan as such, besides the article title).




User Comments: 16

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Guest said:

I like their ambition, but I don't believe that they'll succeed with the "unhackable" network. Best of luck to them though. ;P

Guest said:

saying things like "unhackable" makes you a target. smart move ******.

im not a hacker btw!!!

LOL

Guest said:

"the Adobe CS4 suite (good luck running that smoothly on the Atom platform)"

That is a ridiculous comment. I use CS4 all the time on my netbook without any issues.

However there is no unhackable network. I would imagine many will find that a personal challenge!

JudaZ said:

Guest if you use CS4 suit .. what programs are you using? If you are talking about Photoshop you must work with very small files if you think it runs smoothly on an atom processor. Photoshop CS4 can bring a quadcore cpmputer with 8GB RAM to its knees if you edit RAW images and large images in general with 50+ layers. The photoshop file can easy exeed 1GB in size ..it needs power...atom processors have none.

By the way ...there was no talk about issues .. it was about rinning smooothly.. there is a diffrence.

Building an unhackable network is just silly, it will be broken into within a week.

The weak link is not the network it self, its the computers attached to the network.

If you get access to the machine it does not matter if it runs tripple AES 512bit and a 40 character password using all unicode characters at random.....its still possible to attack and break. ....sure you can attach a securechip on the motherboard or network card that takes care of the connection...but its to expensve...and still it can be compromised.

JudaZ said:

"This in case the netbook is lost or stolen, it can be remotely disabled".... only if the computer has access to power. and there is nothing stopping the signal from getting through before disabling that feature. The hardware that wants to disable the computer remotely after all needs access to the maching to do so...if there is no connection ..you cant do jack shit. After all its not that had to build a Faraday cage, good luck disableing the computer if its in such a place. RFID tags only have limited range... a couple of meters at best. Or you need a damn good antenna on the reciver.

JudaZ said:

....just as a note "It's mentioned that Windows 7 plays a very significant role due to its security " ... Windows 7....secure .. are they kidding... ? As an example of poor security is the fact that you can still , using the same software like before, get into a Windows 7 machine with a password...just reset the password .. .takes 5min tops. It's as secure as Windows Vista, XP, 2000, 98, and so on.... I like windows...but i never fool myself to think that the operatingsystem is secure in any way.

Eddie_42 Eddie_42 said:

Once there is a release date, we should start a pool for when the article comes out that reads "Unhackable gets hacked".

I'd imagine first day

FoReWoRd said:

there is always a way!

Guest said:

240,000!

Wow M$ must be pleased.

You know I'm not one of those Linux advocates, but this seems like an ideal choice for Linux.

Guest said:

Unhackable? That sounds like a challenge...

Gars Gars said:

JudaZ said:

Guest if you use CS4 suit .. what programs are you using? If you are talking about Photoshop you must work with very small files if you think it runs smoothly on an atom processor. Photoshop CS4 can bring a quadcore cpmputer with 8GB RAM to its knees if you edit RAW images and large images in general with 50+ layers. The photoshop file can easy exeed 1GB in size ..it needs power...atom processors have none.

thats right

im using PS CS4 x64 on dual quad Xeon system with 16G ram on w7

the system is build for rendering proposes and it do it well

but PS CS4 is a different story

its just a hungry SoB :-/ (working mainly with very large canvas size in cmyk mode)

i guess its not enough optimized/developed for x64 yet

PS CS4 x32 working very smooth on dual core/XP/3gb ram, ofc, the waiting is much longer

Regards

Guest said:

well im from Australia and i'm getting one of those notebooks. I have to say that it is a waste of resources for the schools and the government, if they want student to use computers in schools "Portably" they should just give us a voucher to buy our own netbooks in stead of getting a machine that won't run windows 7 at the minimum level. It is a fact i know that the goverment is steadily getting "dumber" by every year.

Any way im getting the netbook and i'll see whats is about.... I'll update when i recieve it.

Guest said:

Damn Straight!!!! YEH!

Guest said:

I would agree with you but I work in the public education sector and being a computer administrator I've already dealt with a number of these systems. They are surprisingly good systems, I thought that they'd struggle with CS4 as well but it seems that only Premier has the most issues running on these platforms (understandable though) but other than that they work beautifully.

DET are really trying their hardest to get this noticed and I was quite impressed that there was an article here but yes, DET have opened themselves up to a challenge touting that.

T77 T77 said:

good move for education.

well everything can be hacked,nothing is perfect,it just takes time.

Guest said:

I'm sure that's accurate, but the type who's stealing notebooks from high school students isn't usually the type who would expect something like remote disabling. Surprise is just about the best strategic tool in the world.

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