Be careful or your space will become their space

Posted May 4, 2007

The Internet is making it easier for anyone – including those with unsavory, or criminal, intentions – to find people and their personal information.

“I feel safe because nothing has happened to me yet…yet,” junior biology major Allison Orum said.

Hacking is one way that information is stolen.

Hackers steal and change passwords and information. It can be used to assume other identities or find the person whose information was stolen.

“That’s why it’s critical that you don’t put any personal information online,” said Michael Nunez, director of campus security and transportation.

Most students here have pasworded MySpace accounts, though students say their passwords are constantly being stolen and profiles are hacked into.

“My picture got changed…It looked nothing like me,” sophomore computer science major Ishmael Brice said.

Freshman liberal studies major Evelyn Castero said that one way to make sure you log in safely is to check the log-in table. It will tell you whether or not it is safe to sign in without worrying about hackers.

Beto Valle, a senior criminology major, said that another way to protect your account from hackers is to check the profile address.

People without addresses are very likely hackers.

“If I don’t really know them, I’ll just be like ‘Delete’” Castero said.
Another form of communication students use that is growing in popularity is AOL Instant Messaging.

“I guess because it’s fast and easy and I can get off real quick,” Orum said.

Students at La Verne say that the only people they talk to on AIM are friends. They do not release any personal information that could allow people to find them. Orum stopped releasing information to strangers after hearing stories from friends.

“Not even my first name, that’s how scared I am,” Orum said.

It was reported that the Virginia tech shooter Seung Hui Cho used instant messages to stalk female students on his campus.

There are other students who are not afraid of being hacked. They say it is not an issue for them.

“Because they really can’t do much with my email,” junior business administration major Lonal McKnight said. “What are they going to do, send somebody a crazy message?”

McKnight and other students are more concerned about having bank account numbers and social security numbers stolen. Valle was scared that information he sent to the university online would be stolen and used by someone else.

According to Nunez there have been no reports of online stalking or hacking on campus.

He does offer advice for the types of precautions students can take.
His two main concerns are sexual predators and identity theft.

He warns to students to not give out any information such as address, phone numbers, and social security numbers. He also advises to not give out names of family members, because people can track you by finding out who your family members are.

Students are already taking precautions to avoid being targeted. They only talk to people they know. If they do talk to strangers, they do not transfer any information that could be used to locate them.

“Even though the Internet is still a good communication medium, you still have to be very careful because you don’t know who you are talking to,” Nunez said.

Brice says there is not a way to prevent being hacked, so the best ways to stay protected are to change passwords often, always log out and never release any information that could lead to harm.

“Hackers will always find a way to hack you,” Valle said.

Sher Porter can be reached at sporter4@ulv.edu.

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