back to article Showering malware-laced laptops on UK schools is the wrong way to teach them about cybersecurity

It is not good form to ruin people's online privacy. It is especially bad form if you're in a position of authority when you do this. It goes beyond bad form altogether if you're the Department for Education and you are potentially exposing schoolchildren to online attacks. That is criminal neglect. And it just happened. By …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Ben Tasker

    Rotten at the Core

    I'm convinced the issue with Schools + Pandemic is the Department for Education itself, in particular the leadership.

    Everything they could conceivably screw up, they do. Gavin Williamson threatening legal action against schools to for ending term a couple of days early, to reduce spread in the midst of a pandemic being a particularly egregious example.

    Tech is an area they've been fucking from the start. Somewhere on El Reg there's a story about BT having offered to provide cheap connectivity to kids in need, within 6 months, but the DofE telling them to sod off "we can get better elsewhere", only for there to be no meaningful provision in place come the next lock down.

    And, of course, it came out that Williamson was one of the (relative few) cabinet ministers arguing to delay/avoid this current lockdown. He was also part of the reason kids were sent back to school for one day - presumably as a last chance to pick the virus up and spread it into communities.

    As a nation, we've taken a bloke who was once interrupted by Siri on his own phone, whilst giving a speech in Parliament, and put him in charge of Education.

    I'm all but certain that someone once said to Boris "It's a shame really, what Gavin really needed was to have spent more time in education", and Boris' misunderstanding of that statement has become a cross we all have to bear.

    > There has to be an official inquiry.

    Indeed. Though given the number of ministers who should have resigned/been sacked over other things, it currently seems hard to believe an inquiry would actually lead to any changes/imrovement

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Rotten at the Core

      I'm sorry, Minister - we can't have an enquiry. It would break the social distancing rules.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Rotten at the Core

        I know where they can get some laptops cheap, so they can video conference...

    2. quartzz

      Re: Rotten at the Core

      yeah to all of that.....

      I mean also, someone who was 'tech admin staff' in an army barracks once told me officers were proud of not being able to use technology - cos they drive ships and captain planes. that's what they're proud of

      I recently had some (totally inneffective) dealings with the police (someone committed something against me). the police were a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y u.s.e.l.e.s.s. and the officer who was "dealing" (h-a-h) with my case, declared loudly "this isn't my area of expertise" (in response to question about recommended CCTV).

      any companies that deal with things that aren't tech-related (which is most of them, because tech is the specialised subject), appear to be loud and proud that technology isn't their subject

      does this have to change? (does this have to change?) (does. this. have. to. change?) more, more, more, more subjects, technology is becoming *core and integral* to the job description

  3. fnusnu

    Damned if they do, damned if they don't

    Pearl clutching voice: the kids can't access lessons online

    Government rushes out laptops to help

    This is the result...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

      They wouldn't have been damned if they'd done it right.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

        Thing is, doing it right would either take more time and or more money.

        So would have been damned for going over budget or taking too long.

        What is needed is proper project management and funding.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

          Doing it sort of right could be done in about an hour. Here, give me one of those laptops from the latest production run. I'm going to boot it up and run a simple check. Does it start, log in, have the software we wanted, and pass a Defender scan? It doesn't. You can't send these out. Any further delay is the fault of getting it wrong in the first place. That does take extra time and money, but preventing the problem would have been a lot faster.

          1. UK DM

            Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

            I'm going to presume it would have passed your cursory defender scan test. Hey it sounds like a sofisticated gang with access to modify the original O/S loading images. Hmm I'd bet they know someone might inspect the system for such concerns.

            So as a countermeasure I'd not have the bad actor software reveal itself within the first 100 hours of powered up operation. Even when active stay somewhat dormant as the goal would be to get as many into victims hands before the supply chain is rumbled.

            No what they needed to do was build their own image and blap whatever was supplied. This would be after an inspection of BIOS or other system elements that may present similar security concerns.

        2. MrReynolds2U

          Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

          The budget and timescale must take testing and screening into account. Either it didn't or it was a check-box exercise. None of us would expect to put a client's system in place without demo, feedback, changes and security checks, so why was this skipped in this case?

        3. quartzz

          Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

          without reading the details, one scan of an up to date malwarebytes?

        4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

          Adding a delay to the process would not have been good, but the value in supplying known working systems to their intended recipient would likely to have been repaid multiple times over compared to supplying unknown, untested systems.

          Obviously not everywhere has the capability, but it really is not hard to stream images to a large number of systems simultaneously. This deploys a known, good image, can even be preconfigured with appropriate links to school educational services and also tests the hardware before delivery. Having to support and track down and replace even one faulty system is going to take some effort and time.

          I work for a small enough organisation that having an image streaming setup isn't worth it due to the low churn in devices and therefore how the image would need to be updated individually so often. But we still nuke the supplier's installation and perform a clean install of the OS and required software installations. As a result, we just don't have problems with such systems and their bundled crapware and often really daft non-standard partitioning.

    2. AVR

      Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

      The UK isn't the only country to have had the same rush-out-the-laptops urge. NZ did the same during our lockdowns, which I know a little about. They are the only one to have made this particular mistake as far as I can tell. Such mistakes aren't actually inevitable.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

        Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

        Yes, but consider the leadership we've got...

    3. Kane

      Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

      "Damned if they do, damned if they don't

      Pearl clutching voice: the kids can't access lessons online

      Government rushes out laptops to help

      This is the result..."

      Utter Bollocks.

      It's not like we haven't been in this situation for, oh, I don't know, the past ten fucking months for them to be able to pull their finger out and do this thing correctly, is it? They should have had this on the go from the first lockdown, you know, when all the schools shut for the remainder of the year up to the summer holidays, or even during the summer holidays to allow the correct procedures to be followed, like the article lined out. Or even when they made the decision to keep the schools closed post Christmas...

      Oh no, wait, they didn't do that, did they. They waited until the school year was about to restart, then made the decision to close the schools down on the first day of term.

      The point being, it shouldn't have been a rush job in the first place.

      Absolute shower, the lot of them.

      And stop apologising for them ("Damned if they do, damned if they don't"). The DfE don't need your help in that regard, they need to pull their fucking fingers out and do the job that's in front of them.


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Every Tom, Dick, Harry, Tarquin and Fi-Fi-Mercedes along with their kids download every piece of sh!tware to their phones without thinking twice. Whether it's an app for the local takeaway, booking system for the local hairdressers, gas/elec meter reading app, or $diety knows what. I am aghast at the amount of sh!t that is developed and expected to be downloaded by anybody and everybody.

    Kids and their parents need to learn that their phones and devices are incredibly personal and powerful, and they need to regard them like giving every stranger your address and copy of your house keys.

    Perhaps your drama session made a tiny inroad into that, but I suspect it was just a drop in the ocean.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: meanwhile......

      What does that have to with the problem ?

      People do whatever they want with their own possessions. You're not exposing anything new.

      The problem here is that a branch of government, imbued with the responsibility of children, seriously dropped the ball.

      Heads should roll.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: meanwhile......

        Yes, absolutely. It's a total distraction from the issue at hand. The only way it could be related is if one of those clueless end users who is always compromising their own security and privacy is *also* the one who handed out the infected laptops. But I didn't notice AC making that point.

    2. TechHeadToo

      Re: meanwhile......

      So moving on - if software packages were secured against tampering, and websites were made responsible for the quality of what they allow to be downloaded, ( Responsible as in 'go to prison and have all assets confiscated') then the more careful members of society could feel a bit more assured about computing devices.

      It really isn't beyond the wit of man to create a secure operating system, and a secure comms network which only move traceable objects which are themselves secure from contamination.

      If only we could end this nonsense about the internet somehow being special and free of the need for society to regulate it....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Government inquiry

    I'm sure the government will investigate the government and conclude that, although the government did a naughty, the pandemic excuses it. So the government will give the government a good talking to, and the government will be very sorry and promise not to do it again until next time.

    1. fix

      Re: Government inquiry

      Actually it's worth recognising the difference between the government ministers and the civil service at that point.

      The Government will absolutely say 'lessons have been learnt' (again), no one at ministerial level will receive the slightest slap on the wrist, and civil servants trying to follow u-turn after u-turn will be blamed for the situation.

      Nothing new.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    You can speficy all you like. If somebody at the bottom of the pecking order in the supplier uses the wrong image - by accident or design - your spec won't be met. You need something else - User Acceptance Testing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It appears the only party that did UAT was the criminal fraternity, and it passed A-OK..

      The best punishment would be to force the idiots in charge to only use these laptops for their personal life for a few months. No better, er, education than personal experience.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "User Acceptance Testing"

      To be fair, the ten year old who did the testing didn't find any problems. ;-)

  7. Mr Dogshit

    Where's Fatima when you need her?

    1. monty75

      Prancing about in a tutu. She still doesn't know where her future lies.

  8. Danny 2

    Elite English footballers are so privileged compared to Scottish footballers. They get to provide free school meals to hungry children, while in Scotland politicians already did that.

    I just checked the Scottish equivalent to malware laptops.

    More than 23,000 iPads and Chromebooks are being distributed among digitally excluded low-income families and care leavers, as part of the latest phase of the £43 million programme. As well as a new device, recipients also receive mobile data and help to use the internet confidently and safely for up to two years.

    That seems like gross over-spec but safe. I doubt it's enough numbers but frankly the poorest 8 year old I know has an internet connected Playstation for his GTA that could work for schooling. (Yes I know an eight year old shouldn't be playing Grand Theft Auto. I managed to persuade his parents to stop smoking in their house. Wee changes.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: free school meals

      Easy when it's not your money! 20% more per capita from Central Government than England. You are most definitely not welcome. Vote SNP today, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

      1. Danny 2

        Re: re: free school meals

        And a happy Burns Night to you too!

        Then let us pray that come it may,

        As come it will for a’ that,

        That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth

        Shall bear the gree an’ a’ that.

        For a’ that, an’ a’ that,

        It’s comin yet for a’ that,

        That Man to Man the warld o’er

        Shall brithers be for a’ that.

        1. TDog

          Re: re: free school meals

          Ach well, after achieving independence one will not have to worry about disputes over the Barnett formula. Until then one can relax to the jolly words of one of Mr Burns' other poems:

          Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame,

          Fareweel our ancient glory;

          Fareweel ev'n to the Scottish name,

          Sae fam'd in martial story.

          Now Sark rins over Solway sands,

          An' Tweed rins to the ocean,

          To mark where England's province stands-

          Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


          What force or guile could not subdue,

          Thro' many warlike ages,

          Is wrought now by a coward few,

          For hireling traitor's wages.

          The English steel we could disdain,

          Secure in valour's station;

          But English gold has been our bane -

          Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


          O would, ere I had seen the day

          That Treason thus could sell us,

          My auld grey head had lien in clay,

          Wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace!

          But pith and power, till my last hour,

          I'll mak this declaration;

          We're bought and sold for English gold-

          Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

          Oh - the relief in the hearts of all Scottish Patriots when they no longer have to be bought and sold by English gold. I wonder how many fewer rogues there will be?

          1. Danny 2

            Re: re: free school meals

            Dear TDog,

            I'll gie ye some advice,

            You'll tak it no uncivil:

            You shouldna paint at angels mair,

            But try and paint the devil.

            To paint an Angel's kittle wark,

            Wi' Nick, there's little danger:

            You'll easy draw a lang-kent face,

            But no sae weel a stranger

            1. TDog

              Re: re: free school meals

              We seem to have somewhat wandered, I will note in passing that whilst Nine inch may please a lady, three stanza's does not make Danny too a happy boy.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: re: free school meals

        If only your outrage extended to the chumocracy.

        But hey, at least Scotland and possibly NI have a way out, the rest of us have to lie back and think of England & Wales, because this is how it's going to be for the next three years at least, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Client journalism, chronically useless opposition, and gerrymandering don't bode well for the next general elections either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: chumocracy

          They're all pigs at the same trough, Sturgeon using Covid as an excuse for her behaviour, and "forgetting" about meetings she had two days previously.

          I'd stand with Mister Fawkes had he not been a Catholic, as we all know Blackadder, the cold is God's way of telling us to burn more Catholics*

          * my very beloved mother is a Catholic, and I do wonder how in the present day the Beeb haven't stopped the sale of Blackadder DVDs. It most certainly wouldn't get made today :(

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: chumocracy

            I still trust Sturgeon considerably more than any of BoJo or his incompetent yes-men cabinet.

            November the 5th is an annoying occasion as every year it feels more and more that we should be celebrating that Guido Fawkes had a really good idea.

      3. Jonathon Green

        Re: re: free school meals

        If only the SNP fielded candidates on our side of the border...

        Here in Braintree I’d certainly take one of theirs over the ironically named James Cleverly given the choice...

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

          Re: re: free school meals

          They would sweep the board as competent! They ought to stand in some and see how it goes (look at some polling data first to decide where) but I feel pretty sure they'd easily get Cumbria and many places further south.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: re: free school meals

            All things considered, no I doubt very much they would. They have a single over riding policy which is their lynchpin to power and are pretty much unopposed because of that.

            They may actually be competent, they certainly seem to be at least reasonably competent, but if/when Scotland gains independence, it'll be interesting to see just what direction politics goes when there is one massively overriding party whose prime policy as been achieved. Will they self implode? Will they be deserted by the majority who only voted for them based on leaving the UK? Will they become dictatorial because they need "something" big and relevant to replace their leave campaign? Will they rush through an EU membership and, as a very small country, become less and less relevant as a party and government?

      4. ICL1900-G3

        Re: re: free school meals

        Another bravely anonymous post.

        It's not as if the government has got into the habit of wasting our money, after all...

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      More than 23,000 iPads... shouldn’t cost more than £10 million, not £43 million. I guess they bought from the “cheapest” supplier, not from apple.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Someone may be conflating figures, eg total price across the schemes but only counting the iPads in one scheme. I know of one scheme involving 55,000 iPads.

        On the other hand, you seem to be estimating the cost based on the purchase value alone. Do you know what value adds are included? Like 5 or 6 years of extended warranty (which may include damage cover the manufacturer warranty doesn't), backend management systems, purchase of s/w for pre-install etc.

        It's like stuff we sell to the MoD. We need to have spares/replacements on hand for 10 years, even if the supplier happens to EOL the kit in the mean time. That has to be factored into the contract too,

  9. thondwe

    Money making middle men

    So these laptops are "Poverty Spec" Geo E1 - obtained via CompuCenter (Friend of the Torys) and some Chinese importing company in London (Tactus Ltd). So expect they are imaged in China. 4GB Celeron, with Windows on an 32GB eMMC (SD Card) - threads around about how slow they are and likely to die after a couple of Windows Updates due to disk space issues...

    Wasting public money again?

    1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

      Re: Money making middle men

      "likely to die after a couple of Windows Updates"

      More damning of Microsoft than the laptop issuing scheme.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Money making middle men

        I partly disagree there. Windows is bloated, but nearly every OS I could expect schoolchildren to use isn't going to like 32GB storage. A Linux with a GUI can run in that, but the internal disk will end up storing school files, programs for videoconference classrooms, offline copies of stuff so the network can go down, and now that's getting full too. Chrome OS could fit in that, but I don't like making it easier for Google to lock in young people to their cloudy apps, so I'd prefer not to see it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Money making middle men

          Chrome OS is a marketing platform OS, data is meant to be harvested. not a good choice for security.

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

            Re: Money making middle men

            I trust Google rather more than Russian gangsters though.

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Money making middle men

              Just idly, I wonder how much information Google could collate on Russian gansters?

              While I guess a lot of those that work on the cyber side are very tech savvy, it only takes one slip up to leave a large data trail.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Money making middle men

      They actually pushed the boat out and went for 64GB, unless there are some special low low spec models floating about.

    3. Altrux

      Re: Money making middle men

      Oh yes, we've had exactly this issue with some 32GB cheap laptops used at remote sites, which were an 'unfortunate' purchase by the director, trying to save a few quid. Windows 10 simply is not usable in so little space: the updates constantly fill the drive and kill the machine, no matter how much you try to disable them. Microsoft always wins. We had to give up and replace the machines as they were not readily upgradeable.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Money making middle men

        I managed to run MacOS from a 16GB Kingston USB key. Well, if you call it “running”. A snail has no legs, that’s why it cannot run :-)

  10. Mage Silver badge

    Why still MS?

    Linux was good enough for Schools over ten years ago.

    Apple kit, like iPads as mandatory for every pupil, is an even more crazy waste of money and lock-in.

    1. Ben Tasker

      Re: Why still MS?

      > Linux was good enough for Schools over ten years ago.

      Mine's working on a Kubuntu laptop - so far no compatibility issues with anything the school are using. They're part of a consortium of academies though (funny really, I was opposed to Academy's being introduced, but it's turned out that it's allowed them to insulate themselves from the central incompetence which state schools, unfortunately, aren't able to avoid quite so well).

      That compatibility is almost certainly not going to translate well across all schools though - there'll be one somewhere that's bought the "latest" entirely flash based LMS or something.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why still MS?

        Some of our teachers (again an academy) post their videos to something called Loom which resolutely fails to work with Safari on a prev gen iPad. It works fine on Firefox/Ubuntu though. The other teachers prefer Youtube in non-shared mode. At least there's a reasonable change of that working everywhere.

        The kids don't get to play with the Windows laptops as they're generally needed to be kept in a functional state. All that's required day to day for school is a browser, email, Zoom and Teams which all work mostly anywhere.

    2. ColinPa

      Re: Why still MS?

      I heard a school uses Microsoft teams for the remote teaching. Needs MS.

      1. Michael

        Re: Why still MS?

        Nope. Works under Linux too.

        My kids don't have access to windows machines. Too risky.

  11. Peter Galbavy

    Betcha that every single one of those off-the-shelf, low-spec, consumer grade laptops - that would retails at maybe £249 - will have been billed at about the price of a top-end Lenovo X-series laptop without the slightest hint of irony.

    1. Kane

      "Betcha that every single one of those off-the-shelf, low-spec, consumer grade laptops - that would retails at maybe £249 - will have been billed at about the price of a top-end Lenovo X-series laptop without the slightest hint of irony."

      If Computacentre are running the purchasing process, I fully expect them to charge rent to the DfE, for the easily repayable sum of the price of a top-end Lenovo X-series laptop.

      Monthly. (Irony charged separately).

  12. deive

    Why ethics? Are there good malware that we can choose to install on kids laptops?

  13. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Boris the spider

    The malware delivery is an example how giving kids laptops doesn't solve the education pandemic problems, all it does is change them.

    Parents are now having to be unpaid and often untrained technicians to get the kids using the laptops and solve problems. Not "one divided by three" but eVERYTHING IS IN CAPITALS, the screen has gone dark, the "g" key doesn't work, what's as ESCAPE key? Why No Internet? etc etc

  14. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

    Missed opportunity?

    Maybe all the infected laptops should be recalled and reissued to kids doing any course related to IT security. Then they can be used as both a case study and a practical exercise.

  15. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "Who was responsible for generating the image for the laptops and checking that it was correctly and securely installed?"

    Why one earth were education departments using the devices with the manufacturer's image on them in the first place? Every device we deploy we image ourselves before we let them anywhere near the users.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They were supplied pre-imaged

      They were supplied pre-imaged, with Windows keys hidden away so they couldn't be re-imaged, at least without purchasing another Windows license. Schools/IT were strongly discouraged from re-imaging, when the DFE finally were able to respond to questions.

      They also come with "safeguarding" software and Internet filtering with a handy license up 'til March. After which schools are on their own. It'll all be over by Christmas.

      Arguably quite reasonably, the schools were loath to spend the kind of money required to get the machines up to their existing standards, so have just chucked these things at the kids to use at home only.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: They were supplied pre-imaged

        Sounds like a good way to teach kids to hack computers, maybe there is an educational benefit at the end of the day?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Russian Malware

    So it's just paid-for Advertising or Product Placement from the Tory party's sponsors then?

  17. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

    I agree with pretty much everything the author says about how this could/should have been done properly wrt proper requirements, reviews, etc. But let's not forget this is all being done quickly at a time when IT hardware is already in short supply. No surprise that something like this was going to happen and maybe that's the price we have to pay for getting so many useable laptops out in such a short time when supply is already low.

    Talking of price, according to the reg article covering the original story (linked to in this one), "XMA inked a 12-month contract worth £5.7m covering 26,449 devices, in October 2020". That's only just over £200 per laptop. Pay peanuts, get monkeys etc. etc. Paying more might not have got you any better monkeys mind, just more monkeys.

  18. Howard Sway Silver badge

    The wrong way to teach them about cybersecurity

    Watching the idiots in charge make terrible decisions that lead to huge security disasters? And only learning the huge real costs of attempting to cut costs by doing things on the cheap after the disaster?

    This is a real life, industry standard lesson that will have taught the kids more about what not to do when it comes to cybersecurity in their futures than any multimedia app plaything. It's just that they're being taught what not to do by what they've just had happen to them. And that's the only way most of the grownups ever learn anyway.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

      Re: The wrong way to teach them about cybersecurity

      The (maliciously?) incompetent tory government don't learn, even when repeatedly they've tried everything until they've been forced to get it right as literally the last thing they have left to try... And then the process is repeated with the next "unexpected event" like, say, half term followed by, just weeks later, school holidays! We have been around the school meals thing at least 3 times now...

  19. Altrux

    RPi 400

    We've donated a stack of Raspberry Pi 400s to my son's school. That's everything a primary (or even secondary) level child should need. For under £100, a fully functioning computer kit with a whole basket of funky pre-installed software (and much more available with a few clicks), that can connect to any monitor or TV - something even most poorer households will have. No need for Windows and its malware nightmares, no need to be shipping out fragile, vulnerable laptops, and no need to be importing far eastern junk. The Pi's are designed *and* built right here in Brexitannia!

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: RPi 400

      I'm guessing they wanted to ensure hardware availability which a Pi 400 can't do. That includes a camera so they can be in video classes and be seen, for that matter a microphone which is actually important and the Pi 400 also doesn't have, a battery so the students don't have to be tethered somewhere in their house, and a screen so, if there are two students and one television, they can still work. That all seems reasonable to me. The 400 is a nice device in some respects, but laptops generally offer more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RPi 400

        Great that people are donating kit to schools - but share a thought for the school's tech support and admin staff. They will have been running around since Day 1 of the pandemic - pivoting networks to remote access - getting home working staff kit, getting kit to kids. Dealing with promises of govt kit that go through a predictable trajectory:

        1. Something must be done

        2. PM announces 'trillion laptops for every primary school'

        3. Minister announces that PM meant that he hadn't promised, he aspired to a trillion, but over the next 20 years

        4. DoE sends 50 page questionnaire to school on Friday night asking what kit they need.

        5. DoE says that school can have 10 of the 100 laptops they asked for.

        6. 22 laptops arrive on the day before (insert random holiday here) with no covering note.

        7. Techy spends holiday checking, configuring, installing laptop etc.

        8. Kids take new laptop and feed it, with their homework, to nearest dog.

        Any school will have established systems, software etc. Pivoting from, say, MS-Teams to Chrome-Google for 1800 kids and 200 teachers in a typical secondary school isn't something achieved overnight. And Raspberry Pi 4s might slot in - or might not. Ironically the kids most in-need of support may be from the families least able to cope with techhy complexity.

  20. TimMaher Silver badge

    But, but...

    ... think of the children!

    There does not seem to be a note, in the article, about what the malware actually is.

    More worryingly, there is no indication that the dick heads have told the at risk families yet.

    That would be an important note to El Reg readers who may have this shit at home.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: But, but...

      It's already been mentioned in the original story:

      "The affected laptops, distributed to schools under the UK government's Get Help With Technology (GHWT) scheme, which started last year, came bundled with Gamarue – an old remote-access worm from the 2010s. This software nasty doesn't just spread from computer to computer, it also tries to connect to outside servers for instructions to carry out."

      1. TimMaher Silver badge

        Re: But, but...

        Thanks @Slacky.

        Have a beer.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing happens by chance in a plandemic

    I expect that at the event 201 planning sessions they realised a need for deniable covert monitoring of targeted households. Pre-installed “Russian” spyware (yet again) kind of gives the game away, they probably paid extra for it.

    After the free speech ban, neighbour snitching, mobile tracking and unwarranted travel restrictions have been normalised, expect strict enforcement of “new normal” globalist eco-fascist agenda 21 / 30. Carbon taxes, meat rationing, permits for everything, social credit scores, re-education centres.

    1. Kane

      Re: Nothing happens by chance in a plandemic

      "I expect that at the event 201 planning sessions they realised a need for deniable covert monitoring of targeted households. Pre-installed “Russian” spyware (yet again) kind of gives the game away, they probably paid extra for it.

      After the free speech ban, neighbour snitching, mobile tracking and unwarranted travel restrictions have been normalised, expect strict enforcement of “new normal” globalist eco-fascist agenda 21 / 30. Carbon taxes, meat rationing, permits for everything, social credit scores, re-education centres."

      See, here's the thing.

      You may be right.

      But, by posting as an Anonymous Coward, you've lost all opportunity to point the finger at everyone here and shout "SEE? TOLD YOU SO!!!", when it does happen.

      You should stand by your comments.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Nothing happens by chance in a plandemic

      "I expect that at the event 201 planning sessions they realised a need for deniable covert monitoring of targeted households. Pre-installed “Russian” spyware (yet again) kind of gives the game away, they probably paid extra for it."

      I was at the planning meeting and I can assure you that's not what happened. Why on Earth would we at the Secret Control of Everything Ha Ha Ha Agency (SCEHHHA) use known malware to spy on people? We're smart enough to know that's going to get spotted. We used spyware we had written ourselves, which got installed onto a secret chip inside each laptop. Then, we passed the infected machines off to the standard technical division and they flubbed it by not checking their system image. Now people will be going through those machines with a fine-toothed comb looking for other malware and someone will eventually find our stuff. We're foiled again. Of course, given that we do have enough control to do that, I have to wonder why we bothered so hard to infect some laptops going to the houses of poor children. After all, we also have SCEHHHA spying software on all ISP-required hardware released since 2012 and all modern electricity suppliers' equipment, so you'd think that would be enough. But you know what happens when someone at the top comes in and tells us we have a real reason to secretly track a subset of the population and we should design a new custom tracker, so we did this one too.

  22. quartzz

    the only thing people can really do, is vote. and by vote, I mean spoil their vote, and if the entire country spoils there vote, see what happens.

    and if the entire country spoiling their vote means the same political circus party remains in power, that confirms that the voting system is corrupt

    and that's great

  23. Winkypop Silver badge

    A huge mistake was made

    These laptops were supposed to go to the GOP for use in the 2024 US elections.

  24. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    "There must be consequences."

    I estimate that we are at stage four of the classic project cycle:

    4. Hunt for the guilty,

    5. Punishment of the innocent, and

    6. Reward for the uninvolved.

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