Are we doomed?

I don’t often just post somebody else’s blog, but this is radical enough, and intersects with my interests, so I thought I’d just point to it.

If you have your own comments, you might add them below.

HASTAC Website

It’s Not Just Facebook! What Every College Student Should Know About Online Privacy

The title says it all. This is another in the series of webinars on how to protect your privacy in our online world. Three online privacy experts, Merri Beth Lavagnino, Chief Privacy Officer & Compliance Officer, Indiana University, Jane Rosenthal, Director, Privacy Office, University of Kansas, and Kent Wada, Chief Privacy Officer & Director, Strategic IT Policy, UCLA will talk about how to protect your online life and reputation.

The date is January 30, the place is the Purdy/Kresge Auditorium, the time is 1 PM, for an hour, and no registration is needed–just come in and sit down. And, although this is directed towards students, most of us have online lives. I know I’ll be there.

Watch a rerun of ‘Are you smarter than your smartphone?’

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a web broadcast on securing your smartphone that we streamed on campus January 9. The webinar is now available online and you’re welcome to watch it any time. You can find it here:

If you weren’t able to make the ‘live’ broadcast, take some time to watch it–you’ll make your life a little safer. And while we’re at it, there’s going to be another one, on keeping your online reputation intact. More information will be coming soon, but meanwhile note that it is Wednesday, January 30, at 1 PM in Purdy-Kresge Auditorium.



The access to your email is NOT suspended

Many people today got an email message warning them that access to their email had been suspended. This is, of course, phishing.

The message looked like this:

Phishing Email

It encourages you to click on a link which will take you to a Google Doc which looks like this:

Google Docs phishing site

Needless to say, don’t fill it inIn fact, don’t even click on the link in the first place. Unfortunately, this particular brand of phishing, which uses Google’s resources, can’t be blocked, because lots of us use Google Docs for perfectly legitimate purposes.

Ultimate lesson: never click on a link in an email and then enter your Wayne State AccessID and password. Wayne State will never send you a log-in link. Instead we will tell you to type in the address or use your bookmarks. That way you always know where in cyberspace you are.

More on the tragedy of Aaron Swartz

Yesterday I wrote about the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz, who was being prosecuted by the feds for publishing articles he downloaded from JStor,  even though JStor declined to press charges.

Just found out that he was one of the leaders of the movement to oppose SOPA, the ‘Stop Online Privacy Act’ that I blogged about earlier. Below is a link to a brilliant talk he gave in June about his role in this fight. I don’t agree with all his political asides, but generally he was right on, as far as I’m concerned. It’s about 25 minutes long, but you can run it in the background, as it doesn’t have any graphics–just a talking head.

Sad story with some interesting philosophical and political undercurrents

A well-known hacker and programmer, Aaron Swartz (26), committed suicide Friday, and set off a firestorm of discussion. He was famous partly for being involved with the development of RSS and Reddit, but achieved notoriety when he hacked into MIT’s JSTOR account and downloaded tons of journal articles, and ‘set them free’. After he was caught (and he didn’t try to hide it very well), JSTOR declined to prosecute, and it’s not totally clear what MIT did (in fact, over the weekend the President of MIT launched an investigation to find out). Meanwhile, the federal prosecutor threw the book at him, threatening him with 35 years (!) in jail and millions of dollars in fines.

You can read lots about it in the article in Inside Higher Ed, and also read commentaries by folks whose work I read frequently, including Larry Lessig, Cory Doctorow and James Fallows. There’s more on

Added Jan. 15: more coverage of the fallout.


January is Data Privacy Month, and we’re celebrating with web broadcasts on privacy

The cybercommunity has proclaimed January to be National Data Privacy Month, and, before you sigh and turn away, you might give some thought to how you are using your smartphone, and, more importantly, how others are using your smartphone. And I’m not just talking about your phone getting hacked or stolen, although both of those things are also real risks these days.
C&IT, through the national university computing organization EDUCAUSE, is streaming a national webinar entitled:

Are you smarter than your phone?

Wednesday, January 9, at 1 PM, in the Purdy-Kresge Auditorium.

There is no need to register–just show up. After the webinar, a few of us from IT will hang around to answer questions and get some dialog going on this topic.

Here’s the official blurb on the webinar:

Nearly everyone on a college campus today has a mobile phone, capable of accomplishing amazing tasks while on the go. But, how SHOULD you make use of your smartphone? You are smarter than your phone if you know that you need to make careful choices about using your geo-location feature. You might post a picture to Facebook while on your European trip if there are other people still living at your address back home. But, if your house is empty while you travel, you would be smarter to wait to post until you get home. Do you really want everyone to know you are out alone at midnight by “checking in” at your local donut shop? You are smarter than your phone if you use sound judgment about revealing your location. You’re smarter than your phone if you know you need to think critically about the sensitivity of the data you put on or access through your phone. Do you use your phone for banking, without password protecting the device? Your phone is happy to do it. But you are smarter than your phone if you protect it with a password. If you’re not thinking critically about what you do with your phone, we’ll help you think again!

Hope to see you there!