ALT-C 2009 (2)

One of the sessions I attended was the Online Identity workshop run by Frances Bell, Josie Fraser, James Clay & Helen Keegan. As usual from that crowd it was interactive, thought provoking & they’d set up an accompanying Wiki.

They started off by asking us to write our names on a postit. Trustingly we all *did* (At least, I think everyone wrote down their name, not someone elses). It wasn’t until afterwards on the train that I realised they’d lost a wonderful teaching point – the fact we all trusted them not to use our names in some malicious way. That said, we did have to find out 3 facts about someone we didn’t know … and Frances then took the flipchart away with her. Should I start to worry…
This was really a start into looking at what data’s out there about each of us – whether it’s things over which we (think we) have control, or that over which we have no control. The issue of uniqueness was also raised – do those of us that have (more or less) unique names need to exercise greater or lesser control than those who haven’t. Guess, in part, it depends what those you share a name with do online!

I joined in with James’ offering on video. I really have no excuse for not using it, heck even the OLPC has a webcam (the 3rd laptop took the photo!), 2 web cams & a digital camera that takes video in my office most of the time. (Granted, my phone only does stills). However, I’ve never uploaded a video to YouTube, (though I did experiment with 12seconds recently – managing to mess up linking it with Twitter :()
The conversation we had surrounding accessibility was useful – it seems that most share my view – that especially with “quick & dirty” media developments (i.e. those that are only intended for the current cohort) should suit the needs of current students, not any that might come in the future. i.e. if no visually impaired screen reading students present, then video doesn’t all need subtitling (though, one could argue, it makes searching for sections much easier for all)
Unfortunately, time ran a bit short, so we didn’t really get to hear what the other groups had done, nor, for that matter, have a go with (later, later). Also, not really time to look at the sort of data folks had found out about each other – though at least one person pointed out it wasn’t their information that had been located.

Just one ID?

OpenID crops up quite often in the blogosphere. While I can see the point to a certain degree, there are also issues of merging upmteen accounts into one. Stephen Downes is a strong advocate, though I can see the points that Langhoff raises in the comments regarding security (particularly after the news of the loss of two crucial discs in the UK, and issues surrounding data in Facebook BBC and The Independent). Now, it seems that the idea of a Universal avatar is being worked on by IBM and Linden Labs.

Why Phishing works.

A recent study (Rachna Dhamija, J. D. Tygar and Marti Hearst) has shown how frequently people were fooled into thinking that sites were legitimate, where in fact they were spoofs. Research had previously indicated that upto 5% of webusers have at some point given details to “phishing” sites.
This particular study used 22 volunteers and 20 sites (7 real, 13 spoof). The ways in which some used to judge whether a site was legitimate or not was a little worrying. For example, the login page of “Bank of the West” (a spoof version of which was used), fooled 20 of the 22 participants. For 2, it was the animation of the bear that fooled them – they didn’t think that a spoof site would bother to recreate an animation. Those tell tale signs, that are often pointed out in the press etc (e.g. Https , padlock etc ) just weren’t seen as important. A little worrying.

Adware targets kids

Security Pipeline have an article that looks at how sites that are aimed at children are particuarly infested with Adware.
From their findings they’ve found that children’s sites particularly have Adware, rather than spyware – which, they assume is because children don’t tend to have credit cards, so it’s not worth spying on what they are doing.
These were machines that were new PCs, with XP SP2 set at the default settings and they found:

Children were the biggest target for spyware makers, by far. The trip to several kids’ sites installed a whopping 359 pieces of adware on Symantec’s PCs, five times more than the nearest category rival, travel. Popup ads proliferated on the machines after that, making them virtually unusable.

Interview with a link spammer

The Register has an interview with a “link Spammer”. A link spammer is someone who trawls a variety of sources, (including blogs) to put links to assorted sites (generally selling things that I’ve no interest in buying)…
So the link spammers – who prefer to call themselves “search engine optimisers”, but get upset when search engines do optimise themselves – turned to other free outlets which Google already regarded highly, because their content changes so often: blogs. And especially blogs’ comments, where trusting bloggers expected people to put nice agreeable remarks about what they’d written, rather than links to PPC sites. Ah well. Nothing personal.

“Sam”, the person being interviewed, goes on to discuss the process of spamming. So far, touch wood, this blog hasn’t been spammed, perhaps because you have to be signed in to blogger to leave a comment. However, another blog that I set up as a test on a personal account, which I didn’t require logging in to use, has been inundated – and this is a site that has a “no index” robots file – in other words, the site should only be accessible to anyone who guesses the URL … – and then the path of the blog.
(I’ve now disabled open commenting!)