Tag: technology

Earlier today, the Barnard community received notice of a phishing attack aimed at university students. The phishing attempt occurs when a hacked university account attempts to share a Google doc with the target. When the target clicks the link to open the document, the hackers gain access to the target’s login information and may install malware to their Google account. Victoria Swann of Barnard User Services offers tips for staying safe and what to do if you’ve been hacked below*:

Dear members of the Barnard community,

There is currently a major phishing attack underway; not just at Barnard, but also Columbia and many other higher ed institutions. It takes the same form as any ordinary notification of a Google Doc being shared with you; and it may come from a person you know, or it may come from an address at “mailinator.com“.

DO NOT respond to that message or click the link in it.  If you did click the link, change your password immediately at password.barnard.edu or contact the BCIT Service Desk for assistance at 212-854-7172.  (Students can also go to 307 Diana for assistance; faculty and staff can go to Milbank 13.)

The link *may* also have given the malware package other access to your Google Account.  Please check the apps linked to your account (My Account -> Sign-in & Security -> Connected apps & sites) and remove any that you do not recognize.  Again, please contact BCIT if you need further assistance.

Google is aware of the issue and is working to alleviate it; and we are working to block additional copies of the attack coming into our domain.

Best Regards,

Victoria Swann
Director, User Services
Barnard College | Columbia University

*The procedure may be different for Columbia students. Contact CUIT for assistance.

Photo Courtesy of Color Code

On Thursday, the ColorCode committee learned that Columbia University Computer Science professor Satyen Kale assigned to his Machine Language (COMS 4117) class a competition “to produce the eponymous cyborg law enforcer.” Drawing on data from the NYPD’s “Stop, Question and Frisk” records, students have been asked to create a machine learning algorithm to “decide when a suspect it has stopped should be arrested” based on characteristics ranging from “sex” and “race” to “suspect was wearing unseasonable attire”, “suspicious bulge”, and “change direction at sight of officer”. Stop­ and ­Frisk is a violently racist program that allows police to stop, question, and frisk any pedestrian who arouses “reasonable suspicion.” Numerous studies and investigations of the NYPD’s own data have shown that Stop­ and ­Frisk disproportionately targets Black people. It has torn apart Black communities in the city and contributes to a system of mass incarceration and policing that brutalizes, incarcerates, and kills Black people across the nation. The program has even been deemed unconstitutional by federal courts.

That a Columbia professor would ask students to implement a program that reproduces and aids Stop­ and Frisk policing with zero acknowledgement of the violence and harm inflicted by the actual program­­–and in fact suggest that machine learning algorithms like this constitute “the future” of machine learning applications— is an egregious example of racist, ahistorical, and irresponsible pedagogy. Data are not apolitical. Algorithms are not objective. To teach technical skills without also teaching anti­racist, anti­oppression developing principles is unforgivable, despicable, and dangerous. For us, as students of color who also are coders, entrepreneurs, and engineers, assignments like this confirm feelings of exclusion and isolation accumulated over many semesters here–­­­being one in a only handful of Black students in a lecture hall, for example, or graduating from SEAS not having had even a single Black professor. It confirms the department and university’s disregard for our wellbeing as students of color, which always is intertwined with the wellbeing of our communities.

Moving forward, ColorCode demands that this Machine Learning assignment be revoked, and that the professor issue an apology addressing the concerns above. We demand that students in the class be provided with alternate ways to receive credit. We demand that the professor and the department acknowledge these concerns, apologize, and make significant, structural changes to ensure this does not happen again. Finally, we support the demands of Mobilized African Diaspora/BCSN and in particular add our voices to demand that the School of Engineering commit to hiring more Black professors and underrepresented professors of color.

ColorCode is a group focused on getting people of color into the technology sector. To respond to this op-ed or submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com

As we approach the halfway point of the semester, we’re probably all feeling the inevitable stress that comes from managing academic workload and extracurriculars. However, if you’re looking for some new ways to apply your new academic knowledge or help in lifting campus spirit, check out the following opportunities:

Happiness Club:

Looking for a way to get involved in making students happy? Consider joining The Happiness Club:

“We are an upcoming club in the Columbia family committed to enhancing the Columbia experience through fun events and activities that will help alleviate stress, push us closer as a community, encourage acts of kindness and simply give us more reasons to smile.

Presently, we are on the look out for positive, determined and passionate individuals who are worthy of leadership roles as well as a general body of fun and enthusiastic people invested in the cause. Message us or send us an email at happinessclub.cu@gmail.com and visit us at our tabling event on October 27, 2015 to find out more.

We promise to keep you smiling from all the wonderful things you’ll do for our college community.”

 

ADI Jade:

Are you a first-year undergraduate student interested in learning more about technology? Consider applying to ADI’s JADE program:

“The January Application Development Experience (JADE) is a great way to bond with other first year students interested in technology. We are looking for first year students with some programming experience. This program will allow you to learn more about the tech community in New York City and tech resources at Columbia. ALL majors please apply, you do not need to be planning to major in Computer Science. To apply, visit this link.”

Want to feature some of your club’s upcoming events on our site? Email a blurb about your event to submissions@columbialion.com.