Unfortunately, this week in Information Science 2000 was a lot less fun than last week, where we conducted a class session online in addition to discussing topics that were outside of the scope of the class but related to topics within the (current) scope of the class.
While I really enjoy learning that way, I also do appreciate returning to a traditional classroom setting. The first half of class on Tuesday was unfortunately relatively uninteresting — we went over the previous exam, and just like on the first exam, there were MANY errors in Professor Schedlbauer’s answer key. This led to a bunch of confusion regarding test scores.
Also, the class average (and median) for the second exam were about 65%. This is understandable because many of the questions were either:
Worded in confusing ways,
Had confusing content and answer choices,
or had their answers simply entered incorrectly.
What I REALLY don’t understand is why Professor Schedlbauer refuses to curve the test, or eliminate questions that the vast majority of the class got wrong, or both… although the distribution was normal and uniform, I think if the class averages a 65 that something went wrong in teaching (and learning) a certain topic.
The topics that we covered this week pertained to Information Security and Privacy and Predictive Analytics.
I found learning about information security and privacy quite interesting. This is because personally I’m intrigued by how ignorant and naive some people can be with regards to their technological devices and usage and where their data goes.
The problem with how ubiquitous technology has become is that it’s super easy to use — this causes us to use it often, and to think less of when we use it than when we should. What I mean by this is if for example you need to text your parents your social security number so they can finish filling out taxes, you quickly whip out your phone and shoot them a text, then put your phone back and continue along your life.
That piece of information, unencrypted (if it’s a plain SMS message) flies from your phone through the air to the nearest cell tower, and from there, it travels to the nearest large cell signal center, either by wire or air. ANYWHERE in between your phone and the recipient’s device (phone, computer, pager?, etc.) someone could be spying on the cell information traveling through the air/wire.
If the information is unencrypted, then you’re in a VERY bad situation: it’s extremely easy for them to see your original message, which in this case would be your Social Security Number…
The information we learned regarding information security and privacy was very useful. While I found some sections particularly convoluted and way too specific, they gave a good sense of how data transfer and security is structured, and how networks work and deal with information.
I happened to know the basics already of most of the parts, but for the parts I didn’t have a clear idea on yet, it was very fun to learn.
Speaking about private information being gathered by malicious hackers, Yahoo was the subject of the two largest data breaches of all time, TWICE in the same year.
This BGR article goes more in-depth as to just how easy it is for a malicious tech-savvy person to steal your unencrypted sms data.