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back to article RM gets fingers into school biometrics market

RM has grown another tentacle with the acquisition of education technology supplier Orchard Partners Ltd. The firm, which trades as EasyTrace, has been bought by RM for a total consideration of up to £2.8m. UK schools computer supplier RM will initially pay £1m in cash and £1.3m in loan notes redeemable after more than two …

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Alert

All your base are belong to us

Oh dear, this doesn't bode well for the security of the biometric records of the children. Judging by their previous piss-poor attempts at writing software (RM File Manager anyone?) and their other attempts at the educational PC market, this looks like it has the potential to be an unmitigated disaster.

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IT Angle

RM computers hackable

RM ought to set the bios password on their computers. My daughter told me how she uses a Linux Live CD to boot the RM machine. She also told me about using a proxy server to get round the schools net nanny on web browsing.

So RM are now in charge of some things that really ought to be secure?

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Paris Hilton

Za-Nu Labour Again

This government is hell bent on introducing biometric data collection at every level in our society, even in schools. There was a report recently about a teacher "playing a game" with her class in which they all ultimately had their fingerprints scanned - the kids were only 4! Ask parents' for permission? Don't be silly, it's the Za-Nu Labour government we have in power!

Schools up and down the country introducing fingerprint scanning technologies requiring ALL kids to register their fingerprints purely for the purpose of paying for a school dinner, even though 30% of them NEVER even have a school meal!

However, Za-Nu Labour know that by making the taking of biometric data so commonplace and by starting out at an early age, they can so accustom the population to the "necessity" of it that future generations won't even question ID cards, or their ultimimate replacements! Dumb down education enough and future generations won't even have the reasoning abilities to even think through the questions to start with! Anyone see a theme here...? Educashon, educashon, educashon...

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Stop

need permission!

I expect any school to require to get (written/signed) permission from any parent or legal guardian of a minor, PRIOR to 'taking their fingerprints' or expecting to make use of biometric systems to 'identify' the child.

And i will expressly DENY permission to do this to any child of mine.

My opinion is that when the child becomes an adult, then they can make this decision weather or not to volunteer their biometrics, and until such a time such things should not be forced apon them, as this could potentially impact the rest of their lives and put their 'personal details/information' at risk of loss/theft.

foot stamped down on this one, and i will NEVER budge on my position regarding such things when it is minors we are talking about.

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Paris Hilton

Yawn....

http://schools.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/becta_guidance_on_biometric_technologies_in_schools.pdf

There really isn't much security risk, it only takes a series of points - and you can't re-generate a persons fingerprints from the data stored!

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Alert

"you can't re-generate a persons fingerprints from the data stored!"

No, but you *can* re-generate enough information requried to impersonate the person.

"...as Ross, J. Shah, and A. K. Jain, "Towards Reconstructing Fingerprints from Minutiae Points," that just ain't so. You can reconstruct fingerprints from minutae, and they both describe and demonstrate that. Which is to say, the biometrics vendors who persist in making these claims are either ignorant or liars."

http://www.emergentchaos.com/archives/2005/06/fingerprint_pri.html

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Boffin

RE: RM computers hackable

With regards to the BIOS passwords: RM, like most other computer manufacturers, provides establishments with a preconfigured BIOS password. It's then down to that establishment to change it and alter the boot order if so desired.

And with regards to changing the proxy server - that too can be done on many networks but it, of course, relies on the user having access to the proxy settings. Something, which again, is down the establishment to configure. A correctly configured and managed RM network is extremely secure.

Both of these 'vulnerabilities' are far from unique to RM and are both caused by a lack of configuration - whether due to a trade-off with usability or otherwise.

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Alert

Don't trust RM PCs, they are not secure!

"A correctly configured and managed RM network is extremely secure."

From what I remember of being forced to use an awful RM computer was the total lack of security.

For instance, I remember that if you changed your password to "password", and then changed it to <blank>, it would let you type in anything for the password after that! This was in the old Win 3.1 days, so they may have fixed it by now.

Also, the RM File Manager was supposed to restrict you when logging on if you exceeded your disk quota, but simply loading Windows Explorer and setting the hidden attribute on large files got around that restriction.

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Paris Hilton

RE: Don't trust RM PCs, they are not secure!

Windows 3.1 and RM File Manager?? You're talking about technologies that are many, many years old. It's hardly a fair assessment of the current security of an RM network or PC.

Perhaps you could offer me some advice? I used to have a combination style bike lock that could be opened by pulling on the cable and rotating the disks on the lock until they clicked open. Some years later, I bought a car with double locking and an immobiliser... Do you think that I should write to the vehicle manufacturer to complain that my bike was stolen?

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Silver badge

The IT angle is heading for

The Cyberdyne 3000 `School Marm´ no need for wet teachers anymore and the biometrics will tell the machine who is in class and probably where those who are not in class actually are. We don't need freedom if we all live in a perfectly controlled world do we ?

RM! Making money off the backs of the people's diminishing freedom!

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Alert

Hit the companies where it hurts - their pockets

I remember ID Card And You warning years go that these companies would use biometrics in schools to groom children. I find it sickening and have already notified my childrens schools that under no circumstances are they to take biometrics from my children without my concent.

If you are opposed to biometrics in schools I suggest you boycott the products of companies profiting from it. The site http://www.biometricfreedom.com is very useful for this.

Together parents can stop this sick technology.

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