Teaching Smart Social Networking

You’ve got a 10-minute break between classes. What do you do? Grab a snack, hit up office hours, maybe log on to Facebook and scan your friends’ profiles for the latest gossip?

All are viable options, unless you’re a student at Concordia University in Montreal.

Since September, Concordia University has banned the use of Facebook on all on-campus terminals, including desktop computers. According to published reports, the ban was implemented after Concordia officials noticed an increase in spam and phishing attacks that technical experts traced to social networking sites, particularly Facebook.

“Social networking was a new playground for spammers,” explained David Poellhuber, president of Zerospam, a provider of professional e-mail filtering services. “It offered them a fresh crop of targets — mostly young people, tech-savvy people [who are] perhaps not so security-conscious.”

In fact, users who have grown up with computers are prime targets for social networking attacks because they’re inherently hungry for content and used to clicking around online to obtain it, Poellhuber said.

“They want to get the features, they want to get the application, and they will click ‘yes,’” he said. “They will click ‘yes’ to Google, which will read their e-mail. They will click ‘yes’ to any Apple store, which will hold their credit card information. They just want to get [the programs] running. The fact is that the digital natives are probably more lax than the analog natives on privacy protection.”

Simply posting your e-mail address online opens you up to hacker…


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