Concordia unblocks Facebook - Macleans.ca

Concordia unblocks Facebook

After installing a new firewall, university caves to pressure from students and faculty

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Starting today, students and faculty at Concordia University will be allowed to access Facebook on the school’s wired network.

The school abruptly banned the popular social networking website in September 2008 to the outrage of many students. According to Concordia’s information technology department, security gaps in the university network were making it possible for hackers to use Facebook to access students’ personal information. That information was then being used to launch attacks on the university network.

At the time, Chris Mota, director of media relations at Concordia, told the CBC that the school was increasingly becoming a target of spamming and phishing schemes, and that the attacks were becoming increasingly sophisticated. For example, he said dozens of people had received fraudulent e-mails, purportedly from the IT department, that requested user names and passwords as part of an effort to upgrade the school’s web accounts. About 70 people responded to that e-mail.

In a press release issued May 1, the university said the decision to reactivate Facebook on the wired network was taken in support of the school’s mission. “Facebook has become an important tool for numerous Concordians, specifically in terms of collaboration with academia, researchers and colleagues. Based on feedback from staff and faculty, this website is beneficial to some university members in a variety of ways, from the advertising of campus events to student/faculty recruiting.”

In their decision to allow Facebook access, university administration cited recent improvements to security checks and procedures at the school, including the installation of a new network firewall.