Student Surveillance: How Hackers Can Help Protect Student Privacy

Presented at ToorCon San Diego 17 (2015), Oct. 25, 2015, 2:30 p.m. (20 minutes)

Since 2011, billions of dollars of venture capital investment have poured into public education through private, for-profit technologies that promise to revolutionize education. Designed for the “21st century” classroom, edtech tools promise to remedy the many, many societal ills facing public education with artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, and other technological advancements. In the past few years, education has turned into one of the most data-intensive industries on the face of the earth. While many edtech companies have signed a Student Privacy Pledge promising not to advertise or market to students to protect their privacy, there’s little if any security built into educational products being trusted for longitudinal storage of sensitive data. Furthermore, many of the tools being used in schools track and record every move students make, and further endanger student privacy by employing offensive security techniques monitor kids’ activity. This talk will discuss some of the technologies being adopted in schools and the nefarious ways they are used in classrooms that endanger student privacy from kindergarten through college, and touch on recent incidents in which simple vulnerabilities were exploited by criminals to steal student data from schools.


  • Jessy Irwin/ @jessysaurusrex
    Jessy is a security evangelist and privacy advocate who works for AgileBits, the makers of 1Password. She is a strong advocate for security research, strong encryption and password security, and can be found wearing her opsec necklace and tweeting security-themed ASCII sign bunnies. As a published writer and outspoken advocate for stronger privacy and security protections in education, she is dedicated to raising awareness of security in ways that that help the average person learn how to take care of themselves, their data and their identities online.

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