The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: college student

They Can’t Monitor What We Can’t Avoid

The immanent threat of school shooters is a sad but unfortunate reality of today’s world. In “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives,” Michael Morris contends that universities possess a crystal ball of sorts. By allowing students to access the university’s private network with personal email accounts and wireless internet access, schools have the ability to monitor student’s online activity. Morris offers an anecdote of when monitoring virtual activity would be efficacious:

“If university officials were to learn that a student had conducted extensive online research about the personal life and daily activities of a particular faculty member, posted angry and threatening comments on his Facebook wall about that professor, shopped online for high-powered firearms and ammunition, and saved a draft version of a suicide note on his personal network drive, would those officials want to have a conversation with that student, even though he hadn’t engaged in any significant outward behavior? Certainly.“

In this particular scenario, it in indisputable that this student was a threat to both himself and others and that mining his data saved numerous lives. This is an extreme, worst-case-scenario example. Morris discusses campus threat-assessment teams which look to identify such behavior. Given knowledge of a troubled student’s intentions, a university certainly has the right to intervene. However, in this modern world, the internet is no longer a luxury, but an integrated part of the education system. Schools maintain learning management systems so that all classes have online components. Having a computer is no longer an option, but rather a requirement of being a college student. Shouldn’t students have at least some right to privacy? Anything posted on social media, such as the threatening Facebook comments, is out for public view and can absolutely be tracked. Even flagging students for visiting suspicious websites and browser searches while on the university’s private network is acceptable. But mining data from personal emails and documents directly from a student’s computer without warrant seems unethical and invasive to me. In the age where we keep everything stored on our phones, business, personal and otherwise, I believe student’s have some right to maintain anonymity.

Advices for college students

After stepping into college, the internet becomes more and more popular in our daily life. Nowadays we purchase things through the internet, we upload our assignments through the internet, we book our session through the internet. Meanwhile, internet privacy gradually becomes a problem.

The first advice I would give a college student is that do not use the same password for many websites. Especially in the modern society, all of your accounts are connected. Some websites have strong security systems but some don’t. If one of these websites was invaded and your password was decrypted by the hackers, all of your information on other websites is bare as well. For example, we may correlate our Facebook account to a video game account. If the security system of the game company was weak and the hacker got the information of your account, your Facebook is going to be invaded easily.

The second advice would be that try to avoid logging in your account on public devices. You never know what will happen to others’ devices. Even though sometimes we can choose to not save the password. There would be cookies that can track your account and. Especially when it comes to your payment method, such as the credit card information. There might be unknown computer viruses that were implanted in the public computer system, which means your information could be stolen by others without any trace.

Finally, I would recommend the Apple productions for their security system. All of their devices are connected if you log into your account. If someone else wants to log in your account on a new device then they must get your approvement because there will be a required verification code showed on your old devices. Also, the “Find my Apple” function is useful for finding lost. Even though your mobile phone was turned off, you can trace its location in 24 hours, in order to find it in time.

Don’t hack me

The first part of the RadioLab episode “Darkode” is probably the most interesting episode I’ve ever heard. Though it’s probably not very ethical of me, the story, the tone, and the voice just kept me laughing all the time. On the other hand, it does tell us something about internet privacy protecting. First of all, we should avoid visiting suspicious websites or downloading files from insecure resources. Maybe not in this case in the podcast, but many victims got infected by a virus created by hackers because they went into the websites that shouldn’t be opened. Therefore, surfing the internet in legal ways is an important step to protect yourself from hackers.

What’s more, in the episode, the woman was about to erase the computer files completely so that the virus will go away. However, there was important data in her computer that her husband needed. So my suggestion is to keep a backup file in a hard disk regularly, or back the files up on those online storing websites. Doing so can help to reduce your total dependence on your computer. Even if being infected by a virus is inevitable, you can still protect your data and have your files back. It’s also going to reduce the loss if you lost your laptops or phones.

In the end, for college students, there are many places to turn for help or learn about privacy protecting in the university. Try to find professional help when you’re under a potential hacking attack. There are many new things or websites in college life. Stop filling out too much personal information on the websites can help reduce the risk of private information being leaked out.

Advice for College Students on their online security

First of all, to ensure the security of the computer operating system, install important and urgent patches, the operating system now has the function of automatically updating the patch, the system is often updated to ensure security. If the security of the operating system is not guaranteed, hackers or Trojans can easily obtain various private information of users through system vulnerabilities. For Windows systems, the daily login system, preferably users of the Power User or User group, avoid using the Administrators group, so even if the computer has a Trojan, the damage is controllable.

In terms of security, the iPhone that is not jailbroken is the best in common mobile phones. To use the iPhone, you need to turn on the “fingerprint unlocking” function and the “find my iPhone” function, while ensuring the security of the Apple ID password, using a unique The only secure password. If the phone is lost, log in to the iCloud website for the first time, and enable “Lost Mode” on the device in “Find My iPhone”, so that you can’t use your phone by any method (even if reset the phone), then you can hit it. The phone is reported to the operator for loss of the SIM card. In the event of an emergency, you can remotely erase the information in your phone from the iCloud website.

Try to avoid using software that is suspected of having a privacy risk. Use caution on software developed by small companies. Do not enter personal information in it.

A different view on “privacy vs security”

In the essay Mining Student Data Could Save Lives, Michael Morris advocates for the idea that colleges should have access to the data of their students in order to prevent and safety hazards that some students may pose. At the time this was written, Morris describes how FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) rights had just been reviewed and changed, so that universities could use a students information without consent if it was thought necessary to protect the safety of others. That relied on observations from other students and faculty in order to make assumptions. Now, technology enables us to use algorithms designed to find unusual behaviors, and these algorithms are able to accurately predict the outcomes of these situations. Morris argues that campuses should be using this technology to analyze their students network traffic in order to prevent those safety hazards that may be a threat. Although many universities and their students might believe that this would be a violation of privacy, their data is already being used all over the internet. Morris describes examples of algorithms recognizing unusual credit card purchases, and others that are the reason why one might see an advertisement about something that they were shopping for earlier. Overall, Morris believes that colleges should be using these advances in technology to increase their security and safety, even if it may come at the cost of privacy.

This article gave me a different view on the “privacy vs security” argument. I originally said that I wouldn’t want my data to be viewed and used, but I never thought about applying it to a situation like this. In economics so far this semester, I’ve learned about opportunity costs. Opportunity cost emphasizes that in a situation, one should only do “it” if the benefits outweigh the costs. When applying that idea to this situation, I definitely believe that the benefits of giving up my privacy to my university would outweigh the costs. One of the costs of holding on to my privacy could possibly be my life or a serious injury if my university couldn’t act on a potentially violent student. I think this is pretty much the biggest possible cost, and I most definitely would not give up my life for a little more privacy.

Making Sacrifices Even for Safety

Michael Morris chooses to write about a very controversial issue in his article “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives”. His argument is that College officials should be able to mine students data, that is monitor all the information they send and receive on their network. This would provide security to the campus and prevent attacks by monitoring and flagging odd and suspected behavior from students. The free access to internet and computers allows college campuses potentially unlimited access to student accounts. The question is what are we willing to forfeit for protection?

If a college is given unlimited access to student information that surpasses any privacy that we believe we should have. In this day and age where terror attacks are becoming more frequent people are turning to the only place that they can monitor, the internet. What was thought to be the last truly private place is now monitored by every government agency. There are necessities to monitoring areas in our lives that use technology such as bank accounts but delving into personal data is where we cross the line. The fear of the unknown has left people scrambling to unmask the unknown leading to extreme methods. If the government or even a college campus has the ability to look at every little search or message sent then everyone becomes a suspect. There is a solution to how much we should be monitored but that hasn’t been found yet. Michael Morris makes a fair argument about the need for safety but it should not be by losing the totality of privacy.

Mining Student Data Poses More Threats Than it Resolves

In the article “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives” Michael Morris makes an interesting point about data mining on college campuses. According to Morris, since college students are already using accounts and internet access provided by the school, there is no reason that colleges should not be able to monitor student data for early warning signs of mental instability. Morris says “…the truth is that society has been systematically forfeiting its rights to online privacy over the past several years through the continued and increased use of services on the Internet” (Morris). That’s true. Between social media, google searches, and smart phones, most of our lives are now completely digital. That does not mean, however, that I agree with Morris’ sentiments regarding colleges data mining their students.

It all comes down to a basic question of security vs. privacy. How much of our privacy are we willing to give up in the interest of staying safe? The better question might be, how much of our privacy can we give up while still staying safe? Who is to say that the school officials monitoring the data would be completely aboveboard? I realize that college staff is usually very trustworthy, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Imagine what one corrupted school official could do with access to all of that data. Additionally, once those back channels are established, what is to prevent an accomplished hacker abusing them? Data mining may be to keep us “safe,” but it actually opens the door to a whole new set of problems that colleges may not be equipped to deal with.

It is also important to consider the consequences of false threats. If a school decides that a student’s activity is suspicious they would intervene. But then what if the school was wrong? For example, I have had some strange google search histories in the past. I have always wanted to write a murder mystery and I have researched various poisons to see they would work in my plot. It is likely that, should my college be monitoring my activity, that could be flagged as a dangerous. Even if my search histories were an exception to the rule, how would schools avoid adopting a “guilty until proven innocent” mentality in the interest of keeping everyone “safe?” Morris’ idea has good intentions, but ultimately results in more problems and potential security threats than it solves.

Morris, Michael. “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2 Oct. 2011,

Facebook Will Never Forget Your Face

One thing that I’ve realized so far during my short period in college, is that students need to blow off steam and let loose after a demanding week of schoolwork. In a college environment, that could be done through a variety of activities including, but not limited to exercising, hanging out with friends, and partying. As much as I’d like to say that every college student obeys the law and doesn’t let alcohol touch their lips until their twenty first birthday, this simply isn’t the case.
Our generation not only loves to have fun, but we also find the need to ensure that others know that we are having fun. Various forms of social media allow us to accomplish this, and Facebook is an often used platform to broadcast about the great time we’re having. But what happens to that photo that you get tagged in while you’re holding that red Solo cup? What happens to the photo that shows you clearly intoxicated, while you’re under the legal drinking age? The article “The 5 biggest online privacy treats of 2013” addresses this issue.
Facebook uses the photos of you uploaded onto the site to create a detailed “faceprint” of what you look like from all angles. Facebook may use this “faceprint” to allow you to find people you may know that are also on the site, but there is nothing stopping Facebook from selling this unique “faceprint” to third parties. Remember- this “faceprint” is created with some photos of you doing illegal activities. With the possibility of Facebook selling it to a third party, there’s no stopping a potential future employer from gaining access to this “faceprint” and the photos that make it up. I doubt partying college kids is an image that most businesses want their employees to have.
Please take my advice and remember that everything you put onto the internet lasts. Don’t put things online that could implicate you in any way!

Is anything really secure?

There are several ways a college student can protect his or her online privacy. College students today accept terms of agreement without reading them and even save passwords onto their computer and phone without thinking about what would happen if they got stolen. Students not only don’t know how to protect their computers, they are also oblivious to the fact that their computers are being monitored on the web. Very few students know that photos will always stay on the web. A simple google search of someone can reveal several of their most “private” Facebook photos. In a prank video on YouTube, a person used the Instagram photo locator to find random people who had just posted Instagram photos in his general location. If a normal prankster can track a person that easily, who knows what a government agency could do?

One of the best ways to protect oneself from the number one threat of the five biggest privacy threats of 2013 is to simply download a browser add on. There are multiple browser add ons that one can choose from. Collusion or DoNotTrackMe can be used to either track which companies are following you or prevent companies from following your browsing in general. But even then, DoNotTrackMe only stops so many cookies from following your browsing. There is only so much you can do to keep your browsing private, but even then it is still not completely private. The safest thing you can do as a college student is be careful what information you put online, especially through social media. Think before posting because “deleting” something on the internet rarely actually means deleting it.

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