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Block Minecraft on School Network

Posted on 2013-10-22
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Curious what it takes to block Minecraft from working on a school network where each student has an iPad and some of them seem to never stop playing that game even during class time?

My understanding of the Minecraft iPad app is that it can be played in solo mode or in a group over local wifi. I've implemented blocks of the TCP and UDP port that is the default for the game on my router, added it to my blocked domains list at OpenDNS, turned on the Games category in OpenDNS to block those as well, and also tagged the 3rd party content creators that I was able to identify as blocked material.

I still have students playing group games on our wifi network. There's something I'm missing but I haven't found it yet. Since local games can be run between iPads with players all connected together it does not hit the exterior of our network as far as I know. It's all internal on the network.

I'm running a Cisco 200sg-26p switch which I haven't adjusted yet. I wanted to ask about this on EE before I do. Can I use ACLs or am I just headed down the path of a cat and mouse game if I do?

Thanks for your help!
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Question by:telstar_
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ZamZ0 earned 500 total points
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Are you sure they are actually using your wifi network and not just creating their own ad-hoc networks?

Do the iPads belong to the school? If so, you can make some changes through GPO to restrict access:

Go to C:\windows\system32\drivers\etc
 Open the file named "hosts" with Notepad.
 Toward the bottom, write:

172.0.0.1 *.minecraft.net

Save that and they should be blocked from accessing the browser site on that machine. You can apply this through a script in GPO as well.

echo 127.0.0.1 *.minecraft.net >> %windir%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

Alternatively, you can set up a GPO for software restriction:

http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles-tutorials/netgeneral/Software-Restriction-Policies.html
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by:satsumo
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As ZamZ0 suggests, the game is creating its own peer-to-peer network. Working this way allows any two iPad owners to play together just by being in the same room. Nothing you do on a server will prevent that from happening. Whatever the solution is, it needs to work on the devices.

I would suggest a different approach, install some monitoring software on the iPads. Perhaps something like PeekTab or Mobile Spy. The tablets are property of the school so the school has every legal right to do this. You don't need to be sneaky about it, in fact its better to let people know. The idea is to prevent them from misusing the devices, knowing they are watched will stop many other behaviours, Ensure that you or another member of staff can effectively sanction any offenders in some way.
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by:telstar_
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Asking a clarifying question:

Since most of our iPads are wifi only and not cell network capable, is this adhoc network being created outside of our wifi network or is it running it on top of our wifi network? If it's totally adhoc and not touching our wifi network at all then I will look into those programs to monitor the usage but if it's still running over our wifi network I at least need to know that so it can be included in "discussions" with the parents of repeat offenders.

This is good to know as I was not aware these iPad games were creating adhoc networks so I'm curious to learn more.

Thanks!
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by:satsumo
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If the game is using an ad-hoc network, then it simply requires the devices to have enough proximity to each other to receive network packets. Some games will network via bluetooth. I don't think thats the case for Minecraft.

However, after reading up on the topic a little more, it may not be that simple. The hardware of an iPad is definitely capable of acting as a wi-fi hotspot and it's possible to write an app to create peer-to-peer networks but Apple probably won't allow it into the app store. The link below is a thread about playing Minecraft on an iOS through a peer-to-peer network. Apparently it requires a hotspot of some kind, though it could be a temporary one. They may have to jailbreak the iPad to make this work, theres some disagreement about that.

http://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/1122956-guide-ios-minecraft-pe-multiplayer-no-internet-required/

It's also possible to use a laptop or perhaps a phone as a wi-fi hotspot (iOS or Android). Some kids are pretty expert at this kind of thing. Can you get hold of one of these iPads and check exactly what they are doing? Whatever it is, I think they are likely to be operating in their own network. I'd be interested to know what you discover.
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by:telstar_
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We're looking into it over the next week or two. Will post my results once we have a better idea.
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