By Silvio Miranda
In the 21st century, having a reliable and fast internet connection is not a luxury, but rather a requirement for college students to complete research assignments. It has become very difficult for students to complete their school work lately on campus because they have recently had to deal with three campus-wide internet outages.
La Salle’s Wi-Fi has had problems since the day I stepped foot on this campus. Last year, the primary issue was with the newly implemented SafeConnect system that would always require you to sign in and constantly throw students off the network. The prior year’s system, Cisco, SafeConnect’s predecessor, was even worse because students had to log in with their credentials several times a day. This year, they have to deal with internet outages periodically.
La Salle changed its ISP (Internet Service Provider) last year to Sunesys, LLC. This change did not go unnoticed because last year on the night the provider changed, there was an Internet outage that lasted the entire night. This occurred on the same night in which a person who had reportedly stabbed someone was on the loose, and security sent out an emergency alert text notifying us to check the portal for more details. This was not possible for many students because we did not have Internet access until the following morning.
According to their website, Sunesys is also the ISP for the Philadelphia School District and Villanova University, both of which have comparable Internet speeds to that of La Salle. Why is it then that La Salle experiences the many Internet issues that it does?
It seems to be that actual network infrastructure is at fault. This past Sunday, students were welcomed back from Thanksgiving break with no Wi-Fi. It was later reported by the IT staff that the issue was that the DNS Server (Domain Name System) had failed. DNS is what allows the user to type in www.lasalle.edu on a web browser, which is then translated to 18.104.22.168, an IP Address of the website. Without DNS, you will not get anywhere in the Internet without knowing the IP address of every website you visit.
Tuition at La Salle is very expensive, and it is incredibly frustrating that we do not have a stable Internet connection. Having to deal with unreliable Wi-Fi affects us as students because we are not able perform Internet research, use Canvas to upload and view assignments and download PDF files, among other things.
As modern students, the Internet is a very important tool to us, and it needs to be something that we can depend on having all the time in order to complete our assignments. Students deserve to know why three campus-wide outages have occurred over the past month and what the IT department is doing to fix the problem in the future.
By Meg Liebsch
Impoverished areas are increasingly voting Republican, according to ProPublica and the New York Times. Parts of the country that depend on welfare supported by Democrats are actually beginning to favor Republican candidates who vow to unravel welfare.
While at first glance it may appear that these people are voting against their own interests and the very programs that provide their livelihood, deeper research has found that the people in economically troubled areas such as Kentucky and Western Maine who truly rely on government assistance have stopped voting altogether. Impoverished communities have become dispossessed and disenfranchised by a government and political system that is constantly gridlocked and unwilling to make lasting changes that support economic growth for all Americans. Instead, many poor people are choosing not to vote at all.
The people from these areas who do vote inhabit a slightly higher socioeconomic status. People in these communities who have steady salaried jobs such as teachers, police officers, gas station owners and even coal miners are inclined to vote Republican. These people who do not rely on minimum wage jobs tend to see those poorer than them as too reliant on the government.
As a result of working-class dominated voters, Republican leaders are gaining footholds in impoverished areas. Kentucky senator Rand Paul ran his 2010 campaign on destroying welfare that creates a “culture of dependency on government.” He won with overwhelming support, even from the areas of Kentucky that heavily depend on welfare.
Newly-elected Kentucky governor Steve Beshear won the race on his platform to undo Medicaid expansion in the state. Medicaid expansion in Kentucky gave the state the largest boost in insurance coverage the state had ever seen; roughly one in ten citizens gained access to health care.
These politicians are not being voted in by Medicaid and other welfare dependents. They are being voted in by middle class Republicans, who are increasingly frustrated with what they perceive as the laziness of the poor. Understandably, these people see the economic system of welfare as benefiting the poor while taking away their own wealth through increased taxes.
As inequality in America worsens, support for redistribution of wealth declines and fiscal conservatisim increases. Older Americans increasingly vote against welfare measures in order to protect their own Social Security and Medicare benefits that they have paid into their entire working lives. Simultaneously, working-class Americans seek to distance themselves from the poor. They take pride in their employment and look down on anyone who is not employed or needs welfare to supplement low wages.
Voter participation is shockingly low in poor areas, allowing working-class individuals to dominate the political scene and vote for Republican candidates that will protect their interests. In 2012, West Virginia ranked lowest in voter turnout. Among other low turnout areas such as Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee, Republican candidates are increasingly being voted into office.
Obviously this lack of voting participation from an entire demographic has dire effects on elections. Those who do not vote are more likely to favor spending on the poor and other government services. Hundreds of thousands of poor people in America are continually left with their opinions unheard, unmet and largely ignored. This ignorance of the poor is not only a result of their disinterest in voting, but also voters’ disinterest in understanding the needs of the poor.
In Maine, a state that in 2013 was the third-highest in food stamp usage, governor Paul LePage has drastically cut welfare. He cut welfare distribution in half and imposed a five-year limit on receiving it. He also placed a work requirement in order to receive food stamps and is now hoping to refuse food stamps to anyone who has $5,000 in assets. He has also refused to expand health care coverage to 60,000 people.
LePage defended his actions, saying, “I am not going to help anybody just for the sake of helping. I am not that compassionate.”
I find this quote and this overall trend in the increasing political disenfranchisement of the poor very disturbing. As a powerful leader holding the lives of 1.3 million people in his hands, LePage should have compassion for his people. Although I can understand the standpoints of a burdened working class, I also think they should have compassion for the poor.
I think the idea of the American Dream biases many Americans against the poor and welfare dependents. People who have jobs and a relative amount of financial stability feel that because they have worked hard they can look down on those who do not seem to be doing the same. People do not see poverty as an external symptom of a broken economic, political and social system but rather as an internal individual issue.
If the working-class and more economically privileged Americans attribute poverty to personal mistakes, especially laziness or lack of ambition, then it is easy to blame the poor for their poverty and ignore them. We must see the poor as equal humans who are trapped in a violent cycle that is largely out of their control. It is nearly impossible for people born into poverty to rise out of poverty due to increased mortality rates, poor education systems, lack of secure housing and food sources and a myriad of other issues.
We cannot cut welfare benefits from those who desperately need them. We cannot let the poor sink into anonymity and political disenfranchisement. We must support the poor and encourage them to speak about their needs and the issues they face. In this way, we will begin to solve the issues of cyclical poverty beyond increased welfare. Working with economically impoverished areas to face their problems head-on will spur economic growth and lead to more economic, social and political equality for all.
By Paul Prendergast
On Wednesday, hundreds of students staged a walkout of schools in the Denver area, in protest of a recent school board proposal. The students are outraged at a part of the proposal that plans to review the curriculum of Advanced Placement history classes. The school board is seeking to ensure that only positive aspects of U.S. history be taught.
The proposal states that the curriculum should “promote citizenship, patriotism … [and] respect for authority” and not “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
If this proposal becomes the policy of the school district, the dark, tragic moments in American history, such as the treatment of Native Americans, slavery or segregation may potentially be gone from history classes.
The walkout on Wednesday followed a protest on Friday when at least 50 teachers called in sick according to a Denver-area CNN affiliate.
While the Jefferson County Superintendent, Dan McMinimee, attempted to emphasize that no change to the curriculum has been finalized, this proposal has outraged both students and teachers.
School board President Ken Witt claims that the goal is to give the community a larger role in establishing the curriculum. “The idea is to make certain that we are expanding community involvement and community voice in curriculum. That’s not censorship. That’s the opposite of censorship. This is exactly what these students would want, I hope,” he said.
Community involvement in establishing the curriculum is not always a good idea. In 2013, the Texas state Board of Education nearly approved the use of a creationist textbook rather than a widely accepted science textbook.
Although the censored history curriculum is just a proposal, it is unnecessary and a glimpse at the risk of increased community involvement. It is not in any community’s interests to raise students who are not aware of the mistakes made by previous generations of Americans.
Raising children to think that the U.S. is not without its flaws would be a mistake. The kind of ignorant patriotism that this curriculum would produce would damage this Denver-area community. This form of blind patriotism leads people to believe that people in foreign nations obviously desire our form of democracy, because we are a nation without flaws.
Students need to be aware of the flaws of this nation. The U.S. is not a perfect nation, but it is one where having an informed opinion is encouraged. Having highly educated students should be the goal in establishing a new curriculum, not simply patriotic youths with a great deal of respect for authority.
By Paul Prendergast
On his show, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver discusses an issue at length that typically does not get much coverage by the media. He has contested topics from the death penalty to net neutrality and has done so in a manner that keeps viewers interested in topics that otherwise may not seem interesting.
This week, Oliver chose the Miss America Pageant as his topic for discussion. While the Miss America Pageant is not really of interest to me, Oliver brought to light some startling information: Miss America is the largest provider of scholarships to women in the United States.
This may not be surprising to people who actually watch the Miss America Pageant. The organization would not let viewers forget that fact, constantly restating that the organization provides $45 million annually in scholarship funds.
However, as Oliver pointed out, the key word is “provider.” Miss America does not actually dole out $45 million each year, but closer to $500 thousand. The math Miss America used to reach the $45 million figure is a bit questionable.
The Miss Pennsylvania contest grants scholarships to one of four schools. Obviously a scholarship recipient can only attend one of the schools, but Miss America counted the total scholarship for the four schools toward its national total.
In Alabama, the contest claimed to grant over $2.5 million. This number was reached by multiplying the value of a scholarship by the number of eligible contestants. However, last year there was not a single recipient of the scholarship.
The marketing team behind Miss America harp on the fact that the organization is the largest provider of scholarships to women, but their questionable figures make their self-flattery absurd. As much as Miss America claims to support women in achieving their goals, their contest appears misguided.
On its website, the organization claims “to provide personal and professional opportunities for young women to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community. It provides a forum for today’s young women to express their viewpoints, talents and accomplishments to audiences during the telecast and to the public-at-large during the ensuing year.”
If the Miss America Pageant was intended to provide opportunities for those young women who compete based on their viewpoints, then the portions of the pageant centered on outward appearance should be dropped.
In the scoring for the final competition, Miss America attributes 20 percent of a candidate’s score to the “Evening Wear” portion, and another 20 percent to the “Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit” portion.
A contest claiming to provide young women with opportunities to express viewpoints and talents to the audience should not require contestants to compete while wearing evening gowns or swim suits, let alone have such requirements count toward nearly half of the contestant’s score.
The Miss America organization claims to have evolved from its creation “as part of an elaborate public festival staged by Atlantic City businessmen to extend the summer tourist season,” yet contestants are still required to be judged by their looks.
While the contest claims to provide a platform for contestants to share their views with the audience, contestants are given 20 seconds to respond to questions on topics such as how the United States should respond to ISIS.
Answering some of the questions posed by Miss America requires intensely specialized knowledge and much more than 20 seconds, making it appear that Miss America is either waiting for contestants to falter and look foolish in front of a national audience, or simply does not particularly care what contestants have to say.
Although the claim that Miss America is the largest provider of scholarships to women may not be entirely false, it is unjustifiably emphasized during the Miss America Pageant.
Miss America needs to reevaluate the nature of its competition in a modern society. The organization claims to have evolved from its roots as a gimmick to prolong the tourism season in Atlantic City but continues to subject women to being judged on aesthetic appeal.
If the organization wishes to be seen as supporting the dreams of young women, then Miss America needs to take steps to truly evolve from its roots. The contest should not involve “Evening Wear” or “Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit” portions, and Miss America should not embellish its true scholarship funding total through the use of questionable math.
By John Schatz
The past month has been riddled with shootings. There have been three shootings off campus at La Salle University, a man shot two state troopers while I was on a road trip this past weekend, and now a man who was fired from UPS returned to his old workplace and shot two of his supervisors.
Everybody agrees that shootings such as these are tragic, but disagreement arises when it comes to the source of the shootings. While I’m sure most people agree that the people who pulled the trigger hold the responsibility for the deaths and injuries of their victims, I would argue that the shootings are a systemic issue as well.
The gunman in the UPS shooting was Kerry Joe Tesney, a 45-year-old man who had been working at UPS for 21 years. The victims were 46-year-old Brian Callans and 33-year-old Doug Hutcheson. Hutcheson is survived by his young twin boys.
Tesney was able to gain access to the UPS facility by wearing his uniform and entering via a truck bay that is rarely used by those who do not work for UPS. After shooting the two supervisors, Tesney took his own life.
Tesney’s pastor described the man as being troubled and distressed over his financial situation. My question, which has not been answered yet, is how the man was able to acquire a firearm.
In Alabama, gun registration is not required, nor is a permit to purchase. Carry permits are required, but once they are acquired, the individual with the permit can carry the gun openly and in public without fear of prosecution.
In fact, the only weapons that are illegal in Alabama are guns not covered by the National Firearms Act that are disguised as walking canes. I didn’t even know these types of weapons exist, which goes to show how rare they are and how few firearms are actually being kept off the streets by Alabama law.
Even if Tesney turns out to have been suffering from depression, there would be no legal standing to refuse him the sale of the gun he used to shoot two innocent men.
I have friends and family who love hunting. I have immediate family who go to gun ranges as a way to let off some steam. There is no reason for responsible individuals to be kept from using guns for sport and recreation.
However, there is also no reason for anybody to keep anything other than a handgun in their home as a means of defense. Some of the first people who will agree with me are those who frequently use rifles to hunt.
Substantial gun control reform will not eliminate gun violence. Nobody can make that claim and be taken seriously.
It will, however, cut down on the number of guns legally flowing into the homes of people who are troubled and distressed, like Tesney, and who deal with that stress by killing innocent men, women and children.
The last time any gun control reform was considered with a possibility of being passed was after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in January 2013. The fact children were murdered and that the attack took place at a school, which is assumed to be a sanctuary from the negative aspects of society, prompted a more passionate response from citizens than other shooting incidents.
We should not have to wait for children to be shot to death before meaningful reform is passed. Every death is a tragedy. Every person who is a victim of gun violence is deserving of being a reason to galvanize society into making progress.
If any attention were paid to the shootings that occur on a daily basis around the country, despite not being mass public shootings, society would realize that the devastation seen on the faces of the parents at Sandy Hook is a reality for parents whose stories are never told.
By Caitlin O’Malley
For the second time in three weeks, there was a shooting near campus. And for the second time in three weeks, we didn’t get a text alert. We were at least made aware of the shooting on Sept. 22 via the portal. Unfortunately, that’s not enough.
Even when everyone has a smart phone, not everyone has their email hooked up to it. Those of us who do don’t necessarily check our email every time we get a new one.
Theoretically, we have a text system in place for a specific reason: emergencies. Two people being shot and killed a few blocks away seems like an emergency to me, and yet I didn’t know about it until I checked my email at nearly midnight.
Apparently my text alerts had expired, but I wasn’t aware of that. The school is quick to say that the event had nothing to do with La Salle, but it neglects to mention that the person killed was an innocent 15 year-old bystander.
It also didn’t mention that the man turned himself in. The report is written so that it seems that those who were affected were the ones in the argument.
In actuality, both victims were bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Each time there is a shooting, the University is quick to point out that it had no affiliation.
It posts short reports with few details, and then the same supposed “safety tips” about walking in populated and well-lit areas.
This shooting took place in broad daylight and around a lot of people, and the only reason the school is brushing it off is because it wasn’t one of our students. This time.
I think what the administration and security forget is that, for the vast majority of us, this is our home. 20th and Olney is a place the staff go to and then get to leave at the end of their day, but the students are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
We walk around. We visit friends off campus, like on Woodstock and at York North Apartments. Or we live there.
We can’t just avoid our own neighborhood. But because the events didn’t take place on campus, we are expected to be complacent with two paragraphs on the portal. September is supposed to be Campus Safety Awareness Month, and by not sending a text alert, the school is neither making us aware nor safe.
By Meg Liebsch
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, the Ebola epidemic that has been sweeping West Africa since March is expected to grow exponentially in the coming weeks, especially in Liberia.
The current epidemic of Ebola is the worst experienced since the disease’s discovery in 1976; it has killed 2,296 people in West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal and Liberia. In Liberia, the hardest hit country, 1,089 people have been killed by the disease.
The WHO believes it will take at least six to nine months to contain the disease and by that time upwards of 20thousand people across West Africa may be infected. On Monday, the WHO stated, “The number of new cases is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them in Ebola-specific treatment centers.”
The majority of Liberia’s counties have reported confirmed cases of Ebola. Even as new treatment centers open, they quickly overflow with patients. In Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, taxis crammed with families roam the city hopelessly searching for treatment centers with open beds.
The WHO’s reports paint a disturbing picture of the current situation in West Africa. However, the epidemic has been raging since March, and the West has remained relatively ignorant. News coverage of the disease in the media has been minimal and mostly focused on Western doctors and volunteers who have contracted Ebola while treating patients. The public outcry was focused on the paranoia that the disease would spread in the US as opposed to the ravaging effects it was already having in West Africa.
Similarly, Western governments have been slow to respond to the crisis. The Liberian government has been mostly left to its own devices in instituting ineffective control measures, such as curfews to stem the spread of the disease. Before the epidemic, Liberia had only one doctor for every 100 thousand inhabitants, and since then 152 health care workers have been infected, and 79 have died. Although international efforts have been made in support of the West African countries, they have been small. On Monday, the United States promised to send a 25-bed field hospital to Liberia to provide care for health workers. While this is at least something, this effort is nowhere near helping to contain Ebola. Other governments and charities are also scrambling to contribute, but the WHO estimates that it will need at least three to four times the current amount of aid to control the disease, which is moving rapidly and destructively through Western Africa’s population.
The lack of international organization and mobilization against Ebola almost seems indicative of a previous generation. We live in a global age wherein humanity is more easily connected, and media technology is capable of almost instantaneously disseminating news across the globe. I believe that the West’s ignorance is not a result of a lack of information, but more a lack of empathy. Why else has relatively little been done in the past six months to stop the deaths of 2,296 people? Do we as Americans believe that our funds and concentration is better spent elsewhere? Do we simply not care about people so far away from the comfort and safety of our own homes? I think that despite how technology has created a global community, we still tend to think locally. Americans are concerned with what happens in the United States and how it directly affects them. I think that is the wrong approach. We must treat all humans from all countries as if they were our immediate neighbors and help them when possible. Right now, West Africa needs our attention and dedication to stop Ebola.
By Steve Graham
It is now 13 years after the horrific September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. This is a date that all Americans will never forget, because this nation opened its eyes to a harsh reality. Even the United States of America, the “invincible” country protected by the best military in the world, is vulnerable, and not everyone on this planet loves this country like we do.
After all possible investigations, America realized that the attack was the work of a terrorist group called al Qaeda led by the infamous Osama bin Laden, who has now been terminated thanks to Seal Team 6 of the United States Navy. Now, a new force, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, “ISIS” for short, has threatened this country. This terrorist group has many similarities to al Qaeda, but the differences are what make this particular group such a high-risk target for the U.S. military right now.
We were all first introduced to ISIS when they teamed up with al Qaeda and called themselves “al Qaeda in Iraq.” The two groups teamed up for their common goals. However, they did not share the same ideas. The U.S. forces, alongside allied Sunni militias, defeated al Qaeda in Iraq during the 2006 “surge.” Al Qaeda and ISIS were inadvertently spread thin, but not destroyed.
Both al Qaeda and ISIS see it as their mission to establish an Islamic state called a caliphate, which is a state ruled by a supreme religious leader as a successor to Muhammad.
Five years later, after the defeat taken from the U.S., ISIS restarted its campaign in 2011. They cut off all connections with al Qaeda back in February of 2014 and continued their plight under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS is rapidly gaining support from the younger Sunni population in Iraq, in contrast to al Qaeda. Furthermore, ISIS has tunnel vision on going after the United States of America.
There are plenty of recognizable differences between al Qaeda and ISIS, but four particular aspects of ISIS show us why they are so much more powerful.
First, ISIS has the ability to take control of much more territory than al Qaeda has ever been capable of controlling, now spread throughout Syria and Iraq, surrounding oil deposits.
Secondly, ISIS is well on its way to being considered a military force. While al Qaeda blends in neighborhoods and cowers in the mountains, ISIS is setting up training facilities and military bases. They are in the open for the whole world to see.
Third, ISIS supports itself financially. As they seize land, they establish a government with taxes, resort to theft, and sell oil and electricity. Some estimates say ISIS makes one million dollars a day, and possibly even more.
Finally, while al Qaeda talks, ISIS acts. ISIS is attracting Sunni extremists, including some former al Qaeda members.
President Obama and the United States military force stepped in on Aug. 7, 2014. ISIS has been threatening civilians in Northern Iraq, consequently precision airstrikes were sent. Since then, on August 19, ISIS released a video of James Foley, an American freelance conflict reporter, warning the U.S. to stop the bombing in Iraq, and Foley was beheaded. Another video was released on Sept. 2, 2014 after more airstrikes occurred from the U.S. In it, ISIS introduced Steven Sotloff, an American-Israeli journalist, and, because the U.S. did not stop bombing ISIS territory, proceeded to behead him, as well. Now, the U.S. government is in the process of conducting a plan to terminate this dangerous, terrorist military.
ISIS members are in the United States of America, right now. They wave flags on the streets, they terrorize Shiite mosques, and they are threating our homeland. It is time to shift our focus from what the iPhone 6 will look like, to how we can ensure our country’s safety.
By Connor Walsh
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was released from the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Monday for knocking out his now-wife Janay Rice in an Atlantic City casino elevator.
This has been an ongoing controversy in the news since February, and Rice is just now getting real punishment. Why did this punishment take so long? For those who do not know, let’s take a look at some of the specifics of this controversial story:
On Feb. 15, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice struck his then fiancée, Janay Palmer in an elevator at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Rice was at-first charged with only a simple assault and it was considered a “minor physical altercation.”
TMZ put this claim to rest by releasing a video of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of the casino elevator. It was revealed that Palmer was knocked out by Rice himself, and it seemed that this minor altercation was a little bit more than it first seemed.
In March, Ray Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault, but he plead not guilty to the charge and applied for a pre-trial intervention program. This meant that Rice would get to attend this program for a year, and, after that year, his charge would be dropped. He was accepted into this program in May. His charge would be dropped if he completed the program.
Later that month, Rice attended the Baltimore Ravens first mini-camp practices. After the practices, Rice held a press conference with his fiancée to talk about the incident for the first time. Rice’s fiancée was quoted in the press conference saying that she deeply regrets the role she played in the incident that night.
It was not until July that the NFL announced that Ray Rice would be suspended for only 2 games, and could practice with the team and play in the pre-season. This is when people started to become outraged. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tried to respond to this criticism by saying he reacted to what he was shown and Rice was not disciplined by the criminal justice sytem and put into a rehab program.
After receiving criticism for the way they handled this situation, the NFL league office decided to change their domestic violence policies. It was changed that now, for the first time you were charged with domestic violence, it would be a six game suspension, and the second time would result in a lifetime ban.
On Monday Sept. 8, TMZ released the full video of Ray Rice striking his wife two times and dragging her out of the elevator in Atlantic City. It was not until later that day that Rice was cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the NFL.
Now back to the real question; why did it take so long to come to this conclusion? The NFL claims that they had never seen this revealing TMZ video and were only reacting to what they saw.
Personally, I do not think that matters one bit. Why would you have to wait to see a video of Ray Rice hitting his wife when he was already charged with domestic violence? What if TMZ had not released the video? Ray Rice’s suspension was scheduled to be done this Friday. Would the NFL, and the Baltimore Ravens, have let Rice play in the Ravens next game?
I am not saying that I am not happy that the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL did the right thing, but it sure did take them long enough.
Before TMZ released the video on Monday, the Ravens were essentially defending their running back and have only now released him due to the media’s reaction and outrage to this video.
The Baltimore Ravens and NFL deserve no praise for how they handled this situation. The only reason Rice is not playing this season, and is suspended indefinitely, is due to a TMZ video. I would just like to end this article with something I never thought I would say: Thank you TMZ for handling a situation better than the NFL.
By Molly McBride
If you don’t really care about celebrities, why should you care about the recent photo leaks? Well, here’s the question: is my “stuff” safe?
If you have a smart phone, chances are your phone is set to send your photos (and possibly more) to “the cloud.” This is how the photos were released. The celebrities didn’t necessarily have to send them to others, but simply take them and they were saved to the cloud. Some photos had even been deleted years before, but were still in the system.
The name of this storage system, the cloud, lends itself to the belief that your information is just “floating in the sky.” But really, the information has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is into the databases of companies like Apple or Samsung. How much can we trust these storage places if they were hacked?
The initial response to this massive release was that Apple’s iCloud was to blame. Apple has not admitted culpability to a breach in their system, but rather said that the hacking was done to individuals in a very specific way. The Verge says, “reports have speculated that the hackers used a recent tool called iBrute, which can repeatedly try different combinations of passwords on Apple’s Find My iPhone service until one of them works. Once Find My iPhone is breached, it is possible to access iCloud passwords and view images and other data stored in a user’s iCloud account. Apple had previously allowed an unlimited number of password attempts on the Find My iPhone service, but it has since limited it to five attempts, making the iBrute tool ineffective.”
Because this attack succeeded through password entries, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, blames the problem on users themselves. The company suggests always making a strong password and enabling two-step verification, which prompts you for your password and another verification code that they can send you. To me, putting in my password every time I buy something is rather annoying (though I understand the necessity of it) but now, every time I want to access the things I have saved on my iCloud, I’m going to have to put in two?
Apple will also notify you immediately when there is a password change, when data is restored to a new device or when someone logs into iCloud for the first time on a device. But once that information is restored to an unknown device, how do you stop that person from distributing your information as they please? Sure you can immediately change your password, but what if someone already got through the original one?
There are undoubtedly benefits to using a cloud system. If you get a new phone because of an upgrade or a theft, you can have the same exact operating system with all of your applications, photos and more. There is not the arduous process of storing things manually and then downloading them to your phone, but is it worth avoiding this process if someone could possibly access your information—even information you thought was long gone?
Sure, Apple is working to upgrade its security, but as I said before, the process of saving and accessing your information could become increasingly nettlesome. I think it’s beneficial to simply shut off iCloud and store things yourself. Only you will have access to it and only you will decide when and where to share the information you have.