Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Foolery #8: Phishing for Donuts & Bacon

It sometimes takes drastic and unusual measures to raise student awareness about issues. At the University of Virginia, Karen McDowell (a security analyst) & her $60 custom made purple fish costume went on a march to discuss the issues of phishing during Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Lest we think that everyone in the 21st century campus environment would know that phishing means scam emails trying to lure people into revealing passwords or even more sensitive data about themselves, McDowell reports "Sometimes I introduced myself as a fraudulent e-mail because many people don’t know what a phish is."

This is timely in light of a ruckus that broke out on Twitter two days ago. A system called Twitterank asks for your Twitter username & password (while providing a disclaimer) "to determine how worthy of a person you are in Twitterverse." I saw isolated tweets about people & their twitteranks earlier in the day, then by the end of the day saw other people saying it was a phishing scam. Yesterday, the Twitterank author had a say in his defense.

Social network analysis is a real and very complicated process, as I learned in an insanely overpacked conference room in Denver last Saturday. Twitterank and Twitter Grader seem to be stabs in this direction of measuring actors in a network of arcs, trying to determine the geodesic path of least resistance and most influence... or perhaps it's far less complicated and cuts to a core question of humanity that hasn't died since 5th grade: Am I popular?

My Twitterverse answer according to both services: I am still so not popular despite ditching the Coke bottle-thick glasses for gas permeable contacts and having a sharply straight smile after way too many years of braces. That's fine by me.

(Warning: The following is not a political endorsement nor for viewing by those under 19 years of age due to the risk of aging your arteries)

I also have a 22.5 BMI, yet was sent information about Weight Watchers by a former coworker then attacked by the red exercise ball of my colleague this morning. I was beginning to feel self-conscious until another colleague came to the rescue with the ultimate vision of sweet, glorious saturated fat: The Donuts and Bacon '08 T-Shirt advertisement. If this was a button or magnet, I'd be there even as I cringe at the thought of these two wonderful food items together at the same time.

Continuing with last week's theme (no guarantee for next week), here's a free MP3: the Donuts and Bacon song by James William Roy! All the unpopular of the world, sing along with me now...

All us losers and boozers and heroes can't fall
If there's donuts and bacon in the morning!