New ContentKeeper, Wi-Fi policies possibly untrustworthy


Matthew Du

Installing any root-level software to your computer, especially if it does not come from your operating system or component manufacturer, is generally a bad idea. Root essentially gives  administrator privileges on the operating system, allowing it to change absolutely anything it wants. The school’s network requires all students to install the ContentKeeper Root (CKRoot) to allegedly go through the firewall for the school’s new internet system to work. ContentKeeper, self described as “Unmatched Cross-Platform Protection in the Cloud,” is supposed to allow administrators to monitor all network traffic and protect students against malware. 

ContentKeeper essentially is a man-in-the-middle (MITM) spyware attack on all systems with CKRoot installed. It forces all your net traffic through a server that sees your network traffic, then to the final destination. It even manages to bypass SSL encryption (HTTPS), and can see every single piece of data sent on any device on the school’s internet. While this may not seem like a problem, as school administrators should be able to see what happens on the networks they own, this also proves to be a security liability. Because it can bypass HTTPS encryption and directly spy on machines, it allows the administrators to see sensitive data such as passwords, and even financial information if someone purchases something online.

Not only this, school administrators are allegedly cracking down on VPN usage, which is going to force all students to install spyware onto their machines. Because VPNs encrypt the IP address directly from the machine, VPN tunneling allows a direct connection to the router. Because this bypasses the school’s firewall, schools are trying to prevent this. However, the school has already proven, before the new administration, the school internet could still block possibly unsafe websites without forcing students to install ContentKeeper, which would then prevent VPN usage as they become no longer necessary. 

While in theory, installing ContentKeeper should keep more systems safe with anti-malware protection, nearly no tests have been done to prove its efficacy nor does it explain how it supposedly works. There is no accessible mention of signature or behavioral scanning, nor does it explain how their file scanning works. Unlike other true anti-malware programs such as Kaspersky or BitDefender, which have global signature networks and massive signature banks and use heuristic scanning to detect malware, ContentKeeper makes no such claims. 

While ContentKeeper may seem like a good idea to school administrators and the IT department, global firewall settings should be able to do the same, in which schools can simply set up a list of blocked DNS/IP addresses, after all, it does the same thing, except without all the creepy monitoring. If students cannot use even basic HTTPS encryption to protect their data, how else will school administrators encroach on our rights to privacy? By Matthew Du