Letter to the Editor
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 08:10
Dearest Editor of The Tufts Daily,
I applaud Neena Kapur’s effort to talk about cybercrime in her Oct. 15 piece “Code as a weapon.” As a computer science major in the School of Engineering and a concerned member of society, I know that even though cybercrime is becoming more prevalent each year, not a lot of people seem to care.
Kapur was right when she said that Stuxnet was “truly revolutionary” — it definitely opened the door to a new kind of warfare between governments and, sometimes, between governments and organized “criminal” groups as well.
However, I feel that Kapur failed to convey that Stuxnet and other malware have not revolutionized the way that ordinary people think about cybercrime. Yes, we the people are vulnerable to attacks from these programs, but I claim that this is somewhat preventable.
The general population needs to be more computer literate: We need to know how computers work to understand the ways malware takes advantage of vulnerabilities in our computer systems. Even programmers — especially me — need to have more security training so that they don’t introduce vulnerabilities into their code.
Interestingly, a lot of companies are trying to automatically make the web safer for everyone by making them use strong passwords or by auto−updating software to instantly patch vulnerabilities. This way, users are much safer on the web without having to do anything complicated — like take COMP 11, 15, 40, and Network Security — to know what’s going on.
Finally, I would like to express my distaste at Kapur’s use of pathos to convey her message. An angry Girl Scout with a gun? “Shaking with fear” when we hear about malware? These are all unproductive images and ideas that do not inform or teach anything to the Daily’s learned readership. In fact, they are completely misguided: We should strive to understand malware and its virtual siblings so that we can be strong against these kinds of threats. After all, we are vaccinated with weaker versions of a virus to be able to fight against the real thing. The same should apply here — with a little knowledge of malware, we’ll be better equipped to fight it off.
Juan Carlos Montemayor Elosua
Class of 2013