Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Post # 10: Identity Theft

Recently I have been receiving several credit card applications in the mail and I wondered why it is that credit card companies are targeting college students and how this relates to identity theft. An article from CBS News titled College Students Prime Target For ID Theft, talks about how students ages 18-24 are being targeted now more than ever with credit card applications. The article claims that this is due to the naivety of college students and their unfamiliarity with credit cards. How this related to identity theft is the fact that many students, who receive these applications, just throw them away without shredding or destroying them. When this happens, anyone off the street can just walk by, pick it up, and fill it out in your name.   This is a scary thought because college students are not likely to check on their financial records on a daily basis and may not even know someone has stolen their identity until it is too late.

Ways in which to prevent this from happening are simple. First, shred and destroy anything that comes from a credit card company or anything with sensitive information on it. Parents can also help their college student be responsible with their finances and prevention of identity theft. Besides investing in a shredder, parents should talk to their kids about being financially aware. Along with this comes pulling credit checks. This should be done often in order to ensure that no one has stolen your identity. This article really helped me to realize that stealing someone’s identity is easy if you are not taking the proper precautions to protect yourself. I am glad that I read this article because hopefully now I can stop anything before it happens. 

Post # 9: Counter Argument

After reading many articles related to cyber-bulling, I came across one that talked about if schools should be allowed to punish cyber-bullies. The title is Schools Can't Punish Your Cyberbully. Nikhil Swaminathan, the writer of the article, talks solely about how schools should not be responsible for what is done away from campus.  Throughout his article he refers to a situation in Beverly Hills where one 8th grade girl posted a video calling another girl a “slut” and “spoiled.” A state judge ruled that the school’s punishment of the bully was violating her 1st amendment right to free speech. Swaminathan argues that this ruling is fair and that parents should be the only ones to punish their own kids. He claims that this issues it one that would be better handled at home, rather than at school or in the courts.

Although the 1st amendment violation is valid, I believe that kids that are cyber-bullied should be punished at school as well. School is where socialization occurs and where kids spend a large portion of their day. If the person who is bullying them is walking around school, they would be terrified and embarrassed to be seen anywhere. Every child has the right to feel safe and protected at their school and this should be no different. The bully should learn that there are consequences for their actions. Parents may not realize the severity of these cyber bulling situations and therefore I believe it is the duty of the school to step in at that point. If not, the bully could go unpunished and the one who is being bullied would feel even more unprotected from their wrath. 

Post # 8:

This is a video that I came across while roaming the internet for articles on cyber-bulling and stalking in college. Although we tend to think of cyber-bulling only happening to kids, it actually happens to a large number of college students as well. The story told in this video is about a college freshman at Florida State University who was rushing the Kappa Delta sorority.  She received a facebook chat from a girl claiming to be an older sorority sister, just wanting to know about mundane details of her life. As the conversations became more frequent, the “sorority sister” began asking Ashley uncomfortable questions. The person on the other end would ask Ashley what color underwear she was wearing, and if she would take them off and put them in her mouth and take a picture. Luckily Ashley did not fall for the trick, as several others had; only realizing later that this person was not actually a member in her sorority.

I think this story speaks to college freshman and their need to be needed. Especially at larger universities many freshmen go, not knowing anybody. Any way they can get involved makes them feel wanted and as if they have a place where they belong. The “sorority sister” took advantage of this situation and prayed on unknowing and innocent freshman girls. In the end, this story shows that is it not just young kids that can be deceived and hurt by the internet. College kids may think that they are too smart for it, but at times it is obvious they are not. This video provides a warning for college kids to know who they are talking to on the internet, and not to get so caught up in cyber space that you forget about reality.  

Post # 7: Visual Rhetoric

The picture that I found is of a young girl on her computer reading something sent to her. The statement on the screen reads "I can ruin ur life. No 1 likes you! Loser!” The girl who is reading it had her hands over her face as if she is crying. This is an example of cyber-bulling and it is terrible to see. The fact that is a child crying because of the nasty statement appeals to the viewer’s emotion. I don’t know of anyone who enjoys seeing children hurt and this is obviously a painful experience. This photo pushes the viewer to feel bad for the girl and want to help prevent the situation from happening to other children in the future

The computer screen and background are slightly out of focus in this photograph. I believe this is due to the fact that the center of attention is supposed to be the child and the heartbreak she is dealing with. Although the words are what made her feel this way, the main idea of the picture is to realize how these words affect people. I think a lot of times people, especially kids, become more aggressive and abusive in cyber space due to the face that it is not face to face interaction. They cannot see how their words are directly affecting someone else and therefore it makes it easier to say and do malicious things.

The words on the screen, even though not the center of attention, are still extremely important to the picture. Rude and hateful comments are what cyber bullying is all about. Just one statement could alter someone’s life. These words appeal again to the viewer’s emotion. The use of abbreviations and internet slang help the viewer to realize that in fact it is most likely a child talking on the other end. No one wants to think that their child, or any child, is capable of saying those things to another person. 

Post # 6: Cyber Stalking

On the topic of safety, I wanted to touch on cyber stalking. Although I have never had a personal experience with this issue, it is a subject that has been becoming more and more frequent as the year pass. Cyber stalking is defined by Wikipedia as “the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, and damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass.” After reading this and a few articles to familiarize myself with the topic I realized that this is much more serious than many people give it credit for.

Cyber stalking is not just looking at someone’s facebook profile or reading their blog. It’s following and harassing someone else in every aspect of their cyber life.
I know I have been guilty of “facebook stalking” people I meet or even old friends. However harmlessly glancing at someone’s photos or status updates is completely different than knowing their every move. I think that this term is used so loosely today that everyone forgets the true and dangerous side to real cyber stalking. Stalking is a continuous process, not a onetime occurrence. The stalker watches their victim everyday through the scope of virtual media and it is scary to think about the things that they may see.

From stealing someone’s passwords to sending anonymous email to circulating rumors about the victim to manipulating pictures are all ways for cyber stalkers to harass other people. Although there is some legislation out there to protect people from this type of danger, it still remains difficult to prove. Since the topic is so new the federal courts are still trying to decide how to handle it and what the laws should require.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blogs About The I Love You Virus

In the interest of viruses, and while researching them for my last post, I came across a story called the I Love You virus. Two blogs, one called the I Love You Blog and the other by George Hulme, both comment on the 10th anniversary of the virus and everything that has changed since it infected so many people. As a little background, the I Love You virus “is a computer worm that successfully attacked tens of millions of Windows computers in 2000 when it was sent as an attachment to an email message with the text "ILOVEYOU" in the subject line” (Wikipedia).
                The first article, the I Love You Blog, relates mainly to its audience through emotion and pathos. It states that “we grow up hearing that there's not enough love to go around, we don't deserve love, and we're not good enough” (TheILoveYouBlog). It continues as the authors expresses how the effects that happened 10 years ago would still present themselves due to the fact that people are still just as deprived of love as we used to be. Even though the sources and effects of viruses are more widely known, this article claims that those advances are ambiguous.
                The second article, written by George Hulme for Information Week, comes across as much more scientific and appealing to ethos and logos. The author portrays himself as credible by using figures and back up evidence, not just commentary to convey his story. He remarks mostly on why the I Love You virus was so notable and how we have progressed since the attack, especially when he asserts how we have “managed to better secure the operating and E-mail [systems]” (InformationWeek). Even though it is a blog, therefore containing some bias, overall this author represents himself as less swayed by emotion, and more apt to telling the story. 

Viruses Infecting Your Computer

So originally for this post I was going to talk about cyber stalking as a transition from cyber bullying. However, while I was searching for articles about that topic my computer was infected by a virus. It said it was a Windows Efficiency Manager and it was trying to fight viruses, however it was quite the opposite. Therefore, I have decided to have to post pertain to security against viruses and what is really out there to protect your computer from these harmful bugs.
Ever since the increased use of the internet, viruses are more easily able to infect your computer. They can come from websites, emails, and pirated software. Fifteen out of every thousand PCs are hit by a virus each month, which is scary. There are several different types of viruses that can end up on your computer, including Trojan horses and worms. Trojan horse viruses look like computer programs, such as games or anti-virus, but actually infect your computer every time it runs. The worst part about this type is that some have the power to erase your hard drive. Worms on the other hand are “small pieces of software that uses computer networks and security holes to replicate itself” (HowStuffWorks). This differs from Trojan horse viruses because worms can replicate and Trojan horses cannot.   
The easiest way to avoid contracting a virus is by not opening unknown emails or attachments. It is best to just delete the email when you see it. You cannot be infected unless the file is actually opened or unzipped. Another way to avoid is by not purchasing bootleg or pirated software. This ranges from movies to file sharing music.  Although it seems difficult to resist, considering the rising prices, it is definitely safer to purchase it the right way. The easiest way to protect your computer and your files however, is simply downloading an anti-virus or anti-spyware software. There are plenty of them out there and they are proven to work. Although some cost more money than others, it is worth it in order to avoid the ultimate cost you could pay in the end.
Securing your computer from viruses is extremely important. Many people don’t back up their files, and therefore everything could be gone in an instant. I know that from now on I will definitely take these precautions and download anti-spyware software in order to protect myself from having this same situation happen to me in the future.