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University Of Calgary To Offer Course On Spam

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the tastes-like-long-pig-or-short-moose dept.

Spam 283

jrcsnet writes "CBC is reporting that the University of Calgary is going to be adding yet another controversial course (The first, on computer viruses, was covered on Slashdot a while back). According to the article, 'Students will be taught how to write programs that create e-mail spam as well as spy software.' While there must be some benefit for everyone else by creating programs to work against these nuisances, is it worth the risk to the rest of us or even to the potential careers of the graduates of the course?"

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Suspects (5, Funny)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587452)

One day when spam is truly prosecutable, these graduates might find themselves the first to be questioned :)

What's next? A course on editing child porn photos digitally?

Next up... (5, Funny)

wasted (94866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587508)

What's next? A course on editing child porn photos digitally?

Next are courses on Recreational Pharmaceutical Agriculture, Distribution, and Marketing.

Re:Next up... (1)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587553)

And don't forget to sign up for the linear accelerator and uncontrolled combustion reaction courses. The classes will meet at the firing range and the local area blast pit, respectively.

Re:Next up... (3, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587589)

They already teach that in highschools in BC though. I used to live there... a quarter of my school was growing it.

Re:Next up... (2, Funny)

wasted (94866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587629)

Sounds like your high-school had a good college-prep program.

Re:Next up... (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587823)

If only that were the truth... lol

It's probably the only thing keeping the economy alive there now though.

George Bush is having an intellectual love affair (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587542)

"INTELLECTUAL" is hardly the first word that springs to mind when you contemplate George Bush. Mr Bush glided through the best education that money can buy without acquiring much in the way of "book learning". At school, he formed a stick-ball team called the Nads (providing him and his pals with a chance to shout "Go Nads"); at Yale, he was famous for doing the alligator, a dance that involved falling on the floor and rolling around; at Harvard Business School, he wore cowboy boots and chewed tobacco, a strutting provocation to the lefty penseurs who dominated Harvard Yard.

Yet for the past few months this paragon of good ol' boy common sense has been infatuated with a book about an abstract noun by a Jewish intellectual. ... Mr Sharansky's message comes down to... the world really is divided between good and evil. There are few things that irritate foreign-policy types more about Mr Bush than his Manichean view of the world. His infatuation with Mr Sharansky suggests that he is not likely to be any more "sophisticated" in his second term. ...

When Mr Bush talks about freeing captives, the rest of the world looks at Guantánamo Bay. The trouble with Mr Bush's new doctrine is not that he has naively embraced freedom and democracy, but that he hasn't embraced them tightly enough.

Re:Suspects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587632)

So let me get this straight... They want to outlaw posession of utilities that *could* be used inappropriately (cracking, pirating, etc), but they're going to go ahead and teach students how to write software that does something specifically outlawed by a federal act?

Re:Suspects (2, Informative)

AndyL (89715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587724)

Who is this "they" you're talking about that's outlawing things?

FYI : Calgary is in Canada.

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587785)

FYI : Calgary is in Canada.

+5, Informative. I thought it was in Australia but it turns out that I confused it with Cangary [google.com] .

Re:Suspects (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587732)

Next year they'll offer a course in anti-spam. It is a self-reinforcing damand-creating set of courses, sort of like a course in starting wars, and then another in making weapons.

no (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587456)

no

Calgary? Go Flames! ;-) (-1, Offtopic)

SamSeaborn (724276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587457)

Calgary? Go Flames! ;-)

Sweet (2, Funny)

terminalrecluse (830632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587459)

I say we just nuke every spammer we find.

Obligatory Bush Paraphrase... (1, Insightful)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587488)

If you harbor a spammer, you a ter'rist!

If you feed a spammer you a ter'rist!

If you learn this spamming course thingy you a real ter'rist and I'll get yer spamming ass dead er alive!

God bless America.

+500 Funny!!!!!! LOL LOL!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587815)

Hi, I'm the one that modded you Funny. I'm 12 too. I think you're sooo funny.

Save the whales.

Alberta (4, Funny)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587466)

For you Americans... Alberta is basically all of your middle states combined. Lots of Right-Wing rednecks with oil.

Re:Alberta (-1, Troll)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587486)

Yeah, he speaks the truth. I'm a hippie from BC who kinda lives in Alberta.

Re:Alberta (1)

Ian Action (836876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587490)

Alberta? Are there dragons out there?

Re:Alberta (1)

Justin205 (662116) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587506)

Since when did BC have hippies?

Around where I live we have christian-fundamentalist-nutcases...

Re:Alberta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587595)

Whew, you're missing the fun parts of BC.

Off Topic (0, Offtopic)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587495)

Please mod down. This is not really so much as flame bate as it is totally OFF TOPIC!!!

Re:Off Topic (1)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587521)

look into the economic/political philosophy of the "right-wing" and my post will begin to make some sense to you.

Re:Off Topic (2, Funny)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587557)

Why do rednecks and oil == right wing? Stupidity? I'm one of 6 liberals in my state (full of rednecks, oil, stupidity & republicans). How the hell did we ever get a democrat for a governor? Oh yeah you need to add football to the list if Barry Switzer (former OU Football Coach) endorses you, you'll have a better chance of winning. The funny thing is our governor beat a football star (and right-wing dipshit) Steve Largent. Wonders will never cease.

Re:Off Topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587524)

So Calgary isn't in Alberta anymore?

Re:Alberta (1)

themoodykid (261964) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587500)

I second this. Additionally, I've heard that Calgary has the highest number of Americans when it comes to Canada.

Re:Alberta (1)

elambi (251600) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587789)

Are you making a point if so I'm not sure what it is. I've heard Los Angeles has the highest number of Canadians when it comes to America. So what.

Re:Alberta (3, Informative)

thundercatslair (809424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587616)

Hey I live in Edmonton, not everyone, like myself, is a right-wing redneck, just like some people in those middle states. actually I can't even think of one person I know who is a conservative.

Re:Alberta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587771)

Ignoramus.

As an Albertan living in California (arguably the most liberal state in America) I can confidently assert that what an average Canadian thinks of as right-wing is nowhere near what is considered right-wing in America.

In many ways, Alberta is considerably to the left of California.

Re:Alberta (1)

drmarcj (807884) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587791)

Don't forget they also have all of Canada's red meat!

Understandable... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587468)

If you were from Calgary you'd understant.

New Course announced (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587472)

How to beat the living shit out of the professor who thought this up...

seriously tho, i can understand for people wanting to learn how to as a post college course but at university level i can see this being put to evil

an idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587483)

I would like to put my fingers in my own ass.

No Tuition Worries! (5, Funny)

codesurfer (786910) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587485)

Fantastic...a curriculum has finally been designed that will allow students to pay their own way through university, creating and running spam generators!

It's things like this that keep the word 'almost' in my motto 'I'm almost always proud to be Canadian'.

Re:No Tuition Worries! (0)

GnarlyNome (660878) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587511)

we need
http://americansnipers.org/
A barrett light .50 would change the profs mind about the course offering

Possible backlash (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587807)

FREE VIAGRA! Click here.

[reply]

Dude, you're supposed to spam people OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL, YOU MORON!

(Click)

Message sent.

Greed (1, Funny)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587493)

Are the administrators there stupid, or just REALLY that greedy?

Re:Greed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587608)

That was not meant as a joke.

Soo.... (3, Insightful)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587496)

Does this mean I can start to expect spam advertising that I can now get a non-accredited degree on how to spam others?

Either this is some kinda freaky pyramid scheme or I just entered the Twilight Zone...

How to spam others easily... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587541)

...create a signature that advertises Free iPods [freeipods.com] and such after every forum post.

(Directed at no one in particular. Besides I actually like the company's Free Condoms [freecondoms.com] offer...)

Re:Soo.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587734)

Non-accredited? The University of Calgary is an public, accredited institution. It is funded by the Province of Alberta, as are all the other universities in Alberta.

AFAIK, in Canada, there isn't such a thing as a non-accredited university. That would be fraudulent!

You sir (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587503)

are a moron, there is nothign wrong with Alberta and this course could infact give potential to those who wish to pursue in the internet security field/server-admin. Determine how to prevent such problems from happenening in the first place.

overheard in the calgary unemployment line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587505)

well, ya see they got this spam-writin' course i'm thinkin about joinin up for.

Uhhh... (4, Insightful)

shadowmatter (734276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587507)

Wouldn't it be more productive to study ways to combat spam? From simple Bayesian techniques [paulgraham.com] to graph theoretic methods [arxiv.org] ? That would teach you a lot of theory and principles you could apply to other courses as well. Right now, it just sounds like they're just doing this for attention...

- sm

Re:Uhhh... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587531)

That's what the class is... they teach you about spam under the assumption that you have to have knowledge of that to be able to combat it.
The uofc has a pretty underrated computer science department imho.

ps. go flames go

Re:Uhhh... (1)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587580)

Not if the goal is to produce spam.

Re:Uhhh... (5, Insightful)

RockClimb (235954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587690)

"Wouldn't it be more productive to study ways to combat spam?"

I agree, but the truth of the matter is, there is money being made in spam. Nevermind the fact that 99+% of the people being spammed hate it and hate the spammers. Now if I were an alumni of this University, they could kiss my shiney white backside before I would ever give them another dime.

Now the story does say "The aim is to develop new ways to fight these online nuisances." I read this and I see a whole new problem.... They write the spamming software and sell it, then write the anti-spamming software and sell it. This course will do nothing more than make problems worse.

When I see things like this course being offered, and things like this story [telegraph.co.uk] , I no longer belive that what is right matters, it's all about the money or just being plain annoying to as many people as possible . I for one will not shed a tear if the University of Calgary burns to the ground for this as long as no one is hurt (no, I'm not saying it should be torched). What ever happened to doing things to help yourself and/or others?

Spammers remind me of the kid(s) in school who everyone ignored or avoided, only now they have found a way to make people pay attention to them, and they're getting even. I just wish I could burn my email addresses. :)

Re:Uhhh... (2, Interesting)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587793)

Those topics are covered in machine learning courses actually. Pretty well every curriculum I've seen has this sort of material in it. I've taken one such course and found it extremely interesting. The material is so incredibly useful though that I don't think anyone would call it a course on anti-spam. The fact is that these learning techniques have far-reaching benefits beyond classifying email.

But the really interesting stuff I think is mostly left for grad students who specialize a little in the topic.

Uh Oh. (4, Funny)

Alien Venom (634222) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587510)

From: http://www.ucalgary.ca/it/self_help/email/spam/ [ucalgary.ca]

"The University of Calgary's Computing Policy prohibits U of C users from spamming others. If you receive spam that originated at the University of Calgary, please report it to abuse@ucalgary.ca."

I wonder if someone should inform the IT department.

required classes (5, Funny)

same_old_story (833424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587516)

win32Api I and win32api II

I think this is an interesting idea *duck* (2, Interesting)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587526)

I happen to chat online occasionally with people who run blogspammer software, and their response to the rel="nofollow" thing to combat blog spam was, "That's history. We're already on to the next thing."

I don't know how much of that is bullshit, and how much is true, but I think that it's important to always be looking for the new potential ways to get spam through so defenses can be prepared before the deluge.

Re:I think this is an interesting idea *duck* (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587817)

I thought that whole rel="nofollow" thing was just a really bad idea in the first place. There are some really important links placed on blog replies, and I'd hate to see them all get discounted because some blogs get spammed. It's like rejecting all your email on the basis that 10% of it is spam.

Is it worth the risk to their careers? (2, Informative)

Chris Daniel (807289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587528)

is it worth the risk ... to the potential careers of the graduates of the course?

They're the ones who choose to take the course.

Re:Is it worth the risk to their careers? (4, Insightful)

evn (686927) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587656)

The whole point of going to University is to learn how to think, not what to think. I would hope that any University computer science major would be able to figure out how to make a basic network application (like a mass-mailer) by reading the RFCs and API documentation for their platform of choice. I can program a word processor even though I never took "Word Processor Coding 204" and "Text Editor Development 189". Maybe these courses will not only teach how to write a piece of crap-ware but also how to exert a little self-discipline and ethics when they're making all those semi-colons and curly brackets.

These courses actually look interesting and I'm considering taking some courses part-time to work towards my masters there just because they're offering a little variety.

My spider sense is tingling (1, Interesting)

flopsy mopsalon (635863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587530)

From the article:
The idea is for the students to learn how these things propagate, how they are created, how they interact with the system and that sort of thing," says John Aycock, who teaches the viruses course.

"Then we turn around and say, OK, here are these things you've created; now we write the anti-software and figure out how to fight against them."

Uh-huh yeah sure we've heard that sort of thing before. Seems more to me like a certain university is getting a lot of funding from companies that make penis enlargement pills.

Anyway has anyone met any college students lately? Try hanging out in Cancun or Daytona during spring break some time: do we really want these kinds of people running loose with the knowledge of how to make spam software and spyware programs? May as well give them loaded machine guns and hand grenades. I am shocked and appalled at yet another example of the intellecutal irresponsibility of so-called "College Professors".

Perhaps something ELSE is tingling? (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587572)

Uh-huh yeah sure we've heard that sort of thing before. Seems more to me like a certain university is getting a lot of funding from companies that make penis enlargement pills.

Somehow I think that thought came subliminally from a name like John Aycock...

(If you are Prof. Aycock, I'm referring to the tendency of teenagers like me to notice certain four-letter words in names for unknown reasons. I apologize for any harm this post may have caused you. Thank you.)

Re:My spider sense is tingling (4, Insightful)

PurpleFloyd (149812) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587609)

OK, I'll bite the troll: Where is the "intellectual irresponsibility?" The reality is that to create a secure system, you must understand how it will be attacked. Would you trust a locksmith who didn't understand safecracking? Similarly, it's important for IT and computer science students to understand how their systems might be compromised by attackers and how spammers might try to get around their filters.

If locksmiths understand how safes they build will be attacked by safecrackers, they can reinforce critical points and develop devices to seal the safe if a breach is detected. The idea carries over well into IT and compsci - programmers and sysadmins who understand how their systems might be attacked will be able to reinforce against unauthorized access and find potential security breaches. It's one thing to simply say that "checking your input to make sure it fits in the buffer is good" or that "Bayesian filtering is good," but it's another thing entirely to understand and implement attacks and methods to exploit weaknesses in a system.

To catch a thief... (5, Interesting)

SarahKatt (856591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587536)

This kind of information is avilable anywhere really. You could run a google search and get a tutorial on creating a spam cannon server. If someone wants to become a spammer, they can do it without the class.

The attractive aspect here is that these students will know the tricks of the trade when it comes to spamming, and you know what they say: It takes a thief to catch a thief.

Would I pay the 300USD pricetag (Which is the going rate for a 3 hour course at my school, plus books) to take this class? No. But the same is said by many students about Archery, Chess, Basket Weaving and many other classes that are seen as electives.

Re:To catch a thief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587742)

Given that the University of Calgary is in Alberta, Canada, the course is unlikely to be priced in U.S. dollars.

Re:To catch a thief... (1)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587822)

Well fine, fourty-seven dollars is still a lot to outlay for course in spam.

What happened to real college? (4, Interesting)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587540)

Where you were taught theory and higher level thought about subjects. Now we are having people go to college for the pure reason to get a job when they graduate.

What has happened to education?

Re:What happened to real college? (1)

SarahKatt (856591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587569)

I wonder that as well. I'm a college student myself, and college has changed from a place to go to gain a true mastery in your field to something that every teenager feels they must do if they want a life after school. This is true though: Without college, you are faced with a more difficult lot in life as alot of jobs out there that can support a family require the paper.

I felt obligated to change my major from something I love to do (Computer Science) to something that is more stable (Education), due to the fact that programmers and sys admins are a lot that are finding themselves working at McDonalds for years after college while waiting for that job to come up. Florida has a teacher shortage, and a job is almost guaranteed for me when I'm out...

Don't get me wrong. I love teaching too, and I have a passion for the field I want to teach (English and/or Computing), but having to change your major because of the job market makes one feel dirty.

Education needs a revival.

Re:What happened to real college? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587652)

Maybe it's just you then? I'm not trolling, I am about to graduate from Penn State w/ a B.S in Computer Engineering(minors in math and Japanese) and have turned down a $55k/yr job because I didn't really want to do that type of coding. Jobs are out there, but you can't expect to find one just by resume bombing.

Re:What happened to real college? (2, Interesting)

SarahKatt (856591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587701)

Could very well be. I'm from a rather sleepy little town and tech jobs are at a premium here. I'm not saying that anyone majoring in CS, CE, or IT will absolutely be jobless, I'm just saying that I feel a bit insecure in my ability to find, keep, and progress in a job in that field.

To segue' back to the topic: I think those tech degrees do need some more original classes. Learning programming languages is good, but the trends change and in ten years, we might not be using C and PERL anymore. Even the things I learned in Computer Science and "Work outside the code" classes may change. It's a fast paced world, and those kinds of degrees will need skills that set the person apart as well as give them staying power.

Re:What happened to real college? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587642)

Awhile back, fewer peopel attended college. It was, indeed, a form of higher-education.

Today, college is an expectation of all persons much in the way highschool once was. So you have a greater variety (and lower common denominator) of potential students - few of them capable or interested in true "higher education".

So, to appeal to the vast sea of potential students, they turn colleges into vocational schools. Welding, back massage, basket weaving . . .

Some companies are run by idiots (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587543)

According to TFA,

some companies have said they're not going to hire his graduates because they don't like the perception of having someone on board who has written viruses.

Some companies are run by idiots.

How are people supposed to write security software if they don't know malware works? And how can one really learn how malware works without writing some?

When I worked on a firewall project years ago, I wrote some code to test it versus SYN floods. Where we supposed to just do a theoretic analysis and say "sure, it's safe against this attack"?

When I'm not hacking, among the other things I do is teach karate. That includes playing the attacker sometime for my students to defend. And sometimes they play the attacker for other students. It's the only way to learn.

(Of course in both hacking and budo there are legitimate safety issues. While there aren't enough details in TFA to say for sure, it sounds like they've addressed them.)

where can I sign up? (2, Interesting)

osssmkatz (734824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587548)

Let's see.. I learn about: * The SMTP protocol. * How to telnet in to an SMTP server * How it will accept any input as to who I am without checking it, and send mail. * How to write a shell script to automate the above Oh wait.. I can already do that. This better be a 1 credit course. But seriously, it gives these students information about why we have a spam problem, and vital background information so that they can fix it. These students are e-mail users themselves (most spammers aren't, and the one I heard on NPR that is uses I Hate Spam(R) :-) These students hate spam just as much as we do. Gmail, anyone? Automatic Bayesian Filtering across many users.. works great. --Sam

Talk about paranoia (4, Informative)

PxM (855264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587552)

Aycock acknowledges there is a potential for viruses and other malicious software to spread outside the classroom.

He says that's why there are precautions, such as security cameras and a ban on all outside electronic equipment in the classroom.

Each student signs a legal form that says a breach of the security means an automatic "F" and a potential criminal investigation.


I guess they think that there is a high risk that a person will intentionally wreak havoc with the knowledge he learns in that class. Then again, this might just be a publicity thing for the class. I doubt that it's more dangerous than a class on computer security and virus/malware prevention in terms of the risk of damage being done.

--
Free iPod? Try a free Mac Mini [freeminimacs.com]
Or a free Nintendo DS [freegamingsystems.com]
Wired article as proof [wired.com]

Academically rigorous course (1)

deusexcrottsma (700855) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587558)

"Applicants from American high schools will only be considered on the basis of acceptable scores (no score below 400) on the Verbal (effective Spring 2005 Critical Reading and/or Writing) and Mathematics New SAT." From the University's website. With such high SAT requirements I doubt the course is going to be anything short of remarkable. *cough*sarcasm*cough*

Ways to increase enrollment (2, Funny)

chia_monkey (593501) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587571)

Hmmm...I guess the university simply spams people saying "enroll for our spamming class". Who else would want to sign up? Oh the cruel irony...

So let me get this straight. (5, Insightful)

Dylan Thomas (853299) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587573)

People are upset because a university is teaching courses on viruses and spam engines?

You know, if I wanted to learn how to murder someone, probably the best thing I could do is train to be a cop. Or a forensics investigator. Or maybe even a doctor. That's where I'm most likely to learn the skills necessary to help me get away with murder.

Problem is, those classes are also where I'm most likely to learn the skills necessary to prevent a murder, or to save a life, or to bring a murderer to justice.

So what should we do: prohibit universities from teaching skills that might be put to bad use? What would that leave? Philosophy and creative writing?

Sure, someone will argue: but spam engines don't have any good use! You can't save someone's life by learning how to write a spam engine! But I can guarantee you that most of the people who work to block spam engines and stop illegal spammers knows how those spam engines work. They learned it somewhere. Tell me why a university shouldn't be one of the places to acquire those skills.

And certain people who design operating systems should probably take more of those courses in how viruses work. Might keep them from having to release new security patches every eleven days.

Parent is only one who didn't knee jerk! (4, Insightful)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587677)

So far, everyone has posted on how this is such a bad idea and every graduate is going to turn into a spammer.
People, there's a forest in these trees!
Listen, if I'm a programmer, and I took my normal devry programming course, I have no idea what a syn flood is, nor have they taught me anything to do with the basics of a buffer overflow.
Classes taught to exploit these types of vulnerabilites assure that every student *knows in his/her soul* how things can be exploited. They know exactly how a stack can be overwritten, exactly where to find the return address to overwrite. With this information, and this *big picture* understanding, it will make the better coders in the long run.
Compare most blackhats with most whitehats. What do you seen? You see blackhats with crazy abilities to not only forsee vulnerabilites, but also an intimate understanding of how to exploit them. Most whitehats are just people who know enough not to use insecure commands.

Personally, I'm glad Mr. Venema knows more about average vulnerabilites than current Mr. Joe State University graduate, because he knows how things are exploited (Obviously. Look at TCT, Postfix, TCP Wrappers).

If the average developer *knew* something about programming, maybe we'd actually be better off.

Re:So let me get this straight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587705)

You are using reverse logic to justify this.

To be a cop, forensics investigator or doctor, you do not learn how to kill people, you learn how to save people. The information used negatively is an unfortunate side effect.

What you're saying is that the best way to be a doctor is to learn how to kill someone. We are supposed to trust the people to draw a positive conclusion from tis information?

I'll give you half a point. (2, Insightful)

Dylan Thomas (853299) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587739)

Yes, it's true that no one assumes anymore that cops et al. are taught the things they're taught for the purpose of killing someone. So it that sense, my logic is somewhat reversed. But it is not true that cops and forensic investigators especially (perhaps less so with doctors) do not learn how to kill people. They most definitely do. Haven't you seen those silhouette targets cops use on the shooting range? Tell me those aren't designed to teach them how to bring a man down somewhat permanently. So, half a point.

The best way to be a doctor is not to learn how to kill someone, of course. But I would certainly hope that any doctor into whose hands I put my life is well-versed and highly-trained in identifying the things that might kill me, and how they work. And that analogy extends to my computer: I certainly hope the people I'm trusting to keep my systems safe are well-versed and highly-trained in the things that might bring them down. Or even merely annoy me. And I don't even mind if they learn that stuff at the University of Calgary.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

Baricom (763970) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587754)

You know, if I wanted to learn how to murder someone, probably the best thing I could do is train to be a cop. Or a forensics investigator. Or maybe even a doctor. That's where I'm most likely to learn the skills necessary to help me get away with murder.

There's a difference. None of those classes hand you a gun, show you the escape routes, and tell you where to aim.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

Mold (136317) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587809)

Cop training wouldn't?

Perhaps not the escape routes. But I'm sure it would teach HOW to escape in bad situations.

Re:So let me get this straight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587798)

People are upset because a university is teaching courses on viruses and spam engines?

No, people are upset because a university is teaching courses on *AUTHORING MALWARE*.

From the Article:
Students will be taught how to write programs that create e-mail spam

Now, if they were teaching people about them, how they work, and how to combat them, then you'd have a point.

if I wanted to learn how to murder someone, probably the best thing I could do is train to be a cop

Yes, but the thing is, if you were to train to be a cop, your training would not include instruction on how to murder someone.

*THAT* is the difference, moron.

Bomb Manufacturing 101 Prereq for Terrorism 120 (-1, Troll)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587583)

What's next ... courses for bomb manufacturing and how to carry out terrorism ...

And what academic value is there to learning about how to spam? ... anyways, such a course should will likely teach students more about how to con people ...

While on that thought, discussion of viruses and spam would be better geared as part of social engineering course - reducing the effects of viruses and spam requires viewing it and dealing with them as a social problems as opposed to a technical ones.

On an aside, did Slashdot just become a news cache for cbc.ca news website? ... two articles in a row from the same source - must be a slow submissions day.

Ron Bennett

Re:Bomb Manufacturing 101 Prereq for Terrorism 120 (1)

eidola.uk (856774) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587740)

Might be marked as a troll but the post brings up something that illustrates the opposite point from what it intended? You can't teach bomb defusal without teaching explosives.

Do you think there would be so many (2, Interesting)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587598)

programmers writing viruses and spamming tools as there are now if there were more good paying jobs for people who like to program? It doesn't matter what you teach people ...it matters what you pay them to do with their skill.

My hometown.. (1)

Tesko (719892) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587599)

Ahh the pride I feel deep inside that my hometown University will be the first to offer courses that increases the wonderful "incr3ase your m3mber!!!!11" and the ever helpful "w@nt a collage degree!?11" messages.

Ethics (1)

rye (208438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587602)

If they're teaching ethics along with it, then awesome. Knowledge is power.

Trying to discourage the spread of knowledge doesn't make the world a better place. Teaching people to use their skills wisely does.

i assume the course will be called... (2)

jxyama (821091) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587635)

$pAM 1O1?

Re:i assume the course will be called... (2, Informative)

Baricom (763970) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587699)

Actually, it's CPSC 599.63. Here's the instructor's web site [ucalgary.ca] .

zerg (4, Interesting)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587643)

Can you imagine going to a doctor who's never studied viruses? Knowing how easy it would be for a contagion to spread across the globe and wipe everyone out, do you think it's a good idea for money-hungry corporations to be playing around w/ virus strains in their labs? Would you support sending American troops to Iraq w/out showing them how easy it is to build an Improvised Explosive Device out of pretty much anything that needs batteries?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Every single computer scientist in training should have a fundamental understanding of computer security. And if learning means doing, then computer scientists should be taught how to write viruses, send spam and remotely 0wn b0xes. And don't let them graduate if they can't.

Interesting... (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587644)

First, I don't really mind the idea. I think it's probably a good one.

But one thing I find amusing is the idea of keeping physical securit to the site. Surely if we've learned one thing recently, it's the value of knowledge. Keeping them from taking a floppy disc hope isn't going to make a lick of difference here. Except that, I guess, it might give the university some distance if a criminal investigation against one of the students is launched.

Cowboy Logic (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587651)

I dunno, Calgary Alberta is where all the Canadian oil biz people work, and teach new generations of students to pump Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. What's a little spam destroying the Internet compared to a lot of CO2 destroying the species?

Re:Cowboy Logic (1)

thechink (182419) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587821)

Hey we only pull it out of the ground. It's the rest of the world that buys it and pumps CO2 into the atmosphere. There wouldn't be an Alberta oil industry if it wasn't for demand elsewhere.

Not a bad idea (1)

isny (681711) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587664)

I say give all the students who pass a "B". If they come up with a usable solution that passes the slashdot "check list" test, give them an A+.

WTF?! (1)

TheKarateMaster (810628) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587680)

Can any good POSSIBLY come of this?!

Sure, maybe we'll get another SpamAssassin or SpyBot out of it, but... Arrgh! The fewer people know how to spam effectively, the better. Now Joe Blo, looking fow a quick buck, can go to UC for a year, then try to set up... Maybe that's not a quick buck after all, but still... Arrgh!

Next up, All knowledge banned and burned (1)

Okthnxbye (850006) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587718)

"Know thy enemy" some smartyman wrote before the maniacs disembarked from the Mayflower.. .

Eh.. . What? Oh noes! Knowledge is bad, bad, bad!

Let me stop right there before I sound just like an incriminated Jackson.. .

Has it occured to the general pubic yet that your high-school biology and chemistry classes enables you to mass murder using common and readily available household materials?

But still.. . You haven't.. . Weird, isn't it?

course webpage (1)

nadim (83776) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587729)

http://pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/~aycock/spam.html

Like they don't already know (1)

SenFo (761716) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587730)

It's just another way for the university to make money. Seriously, if they have to go to school to learn how to write this software, they aren't a danger to us, anyhow.

Re:Like they don't already know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587750)

Yes, because as we all know fine public institutions such as Canadian universities make money hand over fist. Oh wait, they don't -- just as it should be.

HEY LOOK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587747)

I've got your attention, I RUN A SPYWARE COURSE!

we're cool.

Three words... (1)

chill (34294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587757)

Know Thy Enemy

-Charles

It's trivial to write email worms (3, Insightful)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587778)

All you need is one boring afternoon.
Writing mass-mailer SMTP client is trivial.

You don't actually need to do anything, there are excellent SMTP components in all frameworks. You just need to write code to randomize subjects, attachment names, seemingly plausible content, and scan the Winblows machine in question for address books. The couple of most common formats will do.

Then the part about getting it to run.. for my hypothetical win32.Goatse email worm that changes the background image to hello.jpg I would not even have to resort to holes in outlook or anything. Just send the executable. In a perfect world mail servers would drop win32 executables automatically, but this is not widespread policy.

Let it pop up a requester: 'This attachment is executable content. Are you sure you want to run it?' [Yes]/No

'To provide better support to the goatse community, do you want to send unsolicidated email?' [Yes]/No

'Do you want to install desktop shortcuts?' [Yes]/No

'Do you want goatseMailer to run automatically upon Windows startup?' [Yes]/No

If this was launched late sunday evening, the number of goatse'd background imaged would reach thousands easily. Windows users ARE that stupid.

Re:It's trivial to write email worms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11587830)

The email worm you discussed would likely be legal, though I would include a warning to check the policies of your ISP to the question about sending unsolicited email.

Where can I sign up? (2, Funny)

gearmonger (672422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587788)

Is there a mailing list somewhere??

is it worth the risk to the rest of us? (1, Insightful)

AstroDrabb (534369) | more than 9 years ago | (#11587810)

That sounds like typical Socialist mentality to me.

It is really sad that "socialists" think it is OK to keep knowledge hidden because they think it is the _knowledge_ that is bad.

Well, I am here to tell you that it is not the knowledge. What if I were to post right now how to make a _very_ simple explosive. Would that mean that anyone that read this post would be "bad" or "potentially bad"?

To all you socialists out there... repeat after me
IT IS NOT KNOWLEDGE THAT MAKES SOMETHING BAD! IT IS THE PERSON _WITH_ THAT KNOWLEDGE THAT DOES SOMETHING BAD.

Basically if _every_ computer user in the world knew how to send millions of anonymous spam mails every day, that knowledge of how to do that is _not_ bad. It is the person exploiting that knowledge that is bad.

To put it in simple cave-man language:

Guns not bad, Bad people with guns bad.

Drugs not bad, Bad people on drugs bad.
Cracking program not bad, Bad people exploiting crack in program bad.
Knowledge NEVER bad, Bad person taking advantage of knowledge bad.
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