Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Education Encryption Security IT

University of Pittsburgh Deluged With Internet Bomb Threats 238

Posted by timothy
from the other-than-that-how-was-your-valentine's-mr-moran? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The University of Pittsburgh has been plagued with 78 bomb threats (and counting) since February 14. It started low-tech, with handwritten notes, but has progressed to anonymous emails. Nearly every campus building has been a target. The program suspected is anonymous mailer Mixmaster. The university has been evacuating each building when threats come in (day or night), and police departments from around Allegheny County have offered assistance with clearing each building floor by floor with bomb sniffing dogs. There is a popular tracking blog set up by a student as well as a growing Reddit community. Is there any foreseeable defense (forensic or socially engineered) to a situation like this?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

University of Pittsburgh Deluged With Internet Bomb Threats

Comments Filter:
  • Defense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sperbels (1008585) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:02PM (#39666131)
    Defense=stop taking every bomb threat as a credible threat.
    • Re:Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bitsy Boffin (110334) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:04PM (#39666169) Homepage

      And how do you know which ones ARE credible?

      Who is to say this isn't a program of desensitisation, imagine the headlines "Bomb threat ignored, 300 dead"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Easy formula: No bomb threats are credible. Actual bombings are in the vast majority of cases not preceded by threats. You might as well evacuate a building every time a squirrel shits on the lawn, because the correlation between that event and an actual bombing is about as strong as it is between bombings and bomb threats.

        • Re:Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:12PM (#39666271)

          Stop and use your head. Consider the result, if just once, they don't evacuate and something horrible happens.

          Now you understand the problem.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I believe he is right. If someone wants to bomb, they will not warn you, they will just do it. Evacuating on a bomb threat is different than evacuating on a bomb tip. If someone tips that there is a bomb, or that they saw something suspicious, they will usually come forward with their name, you'll be able to track them. An anonymous bomb threat is just that, it means nothing. It's as real as the end of the world scenario, and I better hope that you don't let those control your life.

            • Like RIT's recent gun tip. Turned out to be an umbrella with a samurai sword handle. Which can totally be mistaken for a gun stock.

            • Re:Defense (Score:5, Informative)

              by Smallpond (221300) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @07:55PM (#39667515) Homepage Journal

              I believe he is right. If someone wants to bomb, they will not warn you, they will just do it.

              Wrong. The IRA routinely planted actual bombs AND reported them, because it caused just as much fear and disruption and didn't turn as many people away from them.

              • by TubeSteak (669689)

                That's because the IRA was waging a public relations battle on their home soil alongside their actual battle for independence.

                The type of people who would bomb the usa are either anti-government and don't give a flip about PR
                OR they're not on their *home soil and the PR dynamic is entirely different

                *for various definitions of "home"

              • Re:Defense (Score:5, Informative)

                by Arrepiadd (688829) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:35AM (#39670449)

                And so did ETA in Spain. In fact, when after the bombings in Madrid people started pointing fingers at ETA, one of the first things that was offered as a rebuttal was their track record at informing of previous bombings.

              • Re:Defense (Score:5, Informative)

                by BeardedChimp (1416531) on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:13AM (#39671081)

                While my Mum was still at school in Belfast, they were getting daily/weekly bomb threats for a quite a while. The headmaster then declared that any time lost due to bomb scares would be made up at the end of term over summer. The bomb threats stopped immediately...

            • Re:Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Phat_Tony (661117) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:12PM (#39668173)
              There's another option here. Think, what if you were a bomber who wanted to maximize the terror you could cause? How about get a good voice scrambler and an anonymous email account and then call and email in bomb threats through several layers of proxies, TOR, etc. They evacuate buildings, cause fear, lots of inconvenience. Keep sending the threats, just keep doing it over and over, more frequently, relentlessly, until they end up with no choice but to ignore you, after incalculable time and expense on the fake threats. Maybe for fear of liability for NOT evacuating for threats, they will go to extremes, but just keep sending them until they're disrupting half the class schedule if they have to... make them cancel major sporting events, whatever it takes to make your threats impossible NOT to ignore. THEN, once they're ignoring you, you actually blow some people up exactly when and where you called in a threat.

              Then start up with the threats again, and now what do they do?

              The idea that a real bomber won't call in the threat to maximize impact isn't valid, because this scenario involves calling in the threat, and maximizes fear over a random non-reported explosion.

              For very few actual bombs, you will cause much more fear and inconvenience this way.
          • Re:Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:41PM (#39666735)

            Stop and use your head. Consider the result, if just once, they don't evacuate and something horrible happens.

            Now you understand the problem.

            Okay. Someone is talented enough to make a pipe bomb, but not something to destroy an entire building.

            So, they make a whole bunch of them and bury them in the grass on the quad where everyone assembles in an evacuation.

            Then, after everyone evacuates and follows the rules...

            • If they aren't clever enough to build one large bomb and do significant damage to the building, its occupants and the general morale of the community; they surely aren't clever enough to build a whole bunch of smaller bombs, wire them up and bury them in an open area with near constant traffic without getting caught.

            • by Z34107 (925136)

              So, they make a whole bunch of them and bury them in the grass on the quad where everyone assembles in an evacuation.

              I remember, back in high school, the district deciding on a new set of emergency procedures, to be rolled out post haste. For our safety and edification, a bored teacher was reading them to us, along with every other class first hour.

              After a few pages, he got to "bomb threat," stopped, and said, "Well, that's stupid. If I were going to plant a bomb, it'd be where everyone evacuates." Not

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Consider this: sometimes there are casualties. That's a fact of life. If something is highly unlikely, then it can probably be safely ignored.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by dj_super_dude (86692)

            I agree, they have to treat every threat as a possible real danger.

            I'll admit that the likelyhood of there being more than one person sending in the threats is at least moderate - copycats who thought it was a laugh at the beginning, but I'd say now after 70+ there is also most likely a large percentage of those threats that came from one individual.

            Now to go a bit 'criminal minds'-ish on you, but if you'll indulge, many cases of criminal behaviour which lead to rather random events (bombings, spree shootin

        • Re:Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by alphatel (1450715) * on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:34PM (#39666627)
          Bomb threats are a federal crime. Remailers aren't open proxies, they are servers designed to provide reasonably anonymous mailflow from a source to a destination and they are operated by generally very law-abiding individuals. The US federal gov't can easily step in, ask remailers to either reveal the sender, log the connections or deny. Ultimately no matter how crafty you are, if you hit a remailer with logging, you will get nabbed no matter how many you walk through on your way to breaking the law. You can get away with this once or twice and if you never do it again it's highly unlikely you will ever be found. But 78 times?
          Someone is going to get nabbed and sadly, it might not be the person who started the chain.
          • by fafalone (633739)
            Yeah someone should set up an e-mail service with tor. They could call it MailTor... or TorMail, or something. Would be great if something like that existed.
          • Re:Defense (Score:5, Informative)

            by Tom (822) on Friday April 13, 2012 @07:49AM (#39671623) Homepage Journal

            The US federal gov't can easily step in, ask remailers to either reveal the sender, log the connections or deny.

            You obviously don't know anything about remailers. I operated one for a few years, so allow me to say what should've been blatantly obvious:

            The operator can not identify the sender. Mixmaster is a type II remailer. Those are specifically designed to make such attacks unfeasable, and continue to operate and provide anonymity even in the event that one or several remailers in the chain have been subverted.

        • Re:Defense (Score:5, Informative)

          by hrvatska (790627) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @07:28PM (#39667275)

          Easy formula: No bomb threats are credible. Actual bombings are in the vast majority of cases not preceded by threats. You might as well evacuate a building every time a squirrel shits on the lawn, because the correlation between that event and an actual bombing is about as strong as it is between bombings and bomb threats.

          I have no idea what the ratio of warnings of bombings to actual bombings is, but there are certainly examples of groups that issued warnings before they bombed. The US group the Weather Underground did. [wikipedia.org]

          The bombing attacks mostly targeted government buildings, along with several banks. Most were preceded by evacuation warnings, along with communiqués identifying the particular matter that the attack was intended to protest. For the bombing of the United States Capitol on March 1, 1971, they issued a communiqué saying it was "in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos." For the bombing of the Pentagon on May 19, 1972, they stated it was "in retaliation for the U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi." For the January 29, 1975 bombing of the United States Department of State building, they stated it was "in response to escalation in Vietnam."

          The IRA frequently sent warnings before it bombed.

          The bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem on July 29, 1946, was allegedly preceded by warnings. Menachem Begin claimed that three warnings were sent out on July 22nd 1946 about the planned attack to keep casualties to the minimum. Warnings were sent by telephone, including one to the hotel's own switchboard, which the hotel staff decided to ignore, but none directly to the British authorities. A possible reason why the warning was ignored was that hoax bomb warnings were rife at the time. The British did not evacuate the hotel and the bombing killed 91 people and injured 45. Imagine the repercussions for the University of Pittsburgh if it ignored a bomb warning and 91 people died and 45 were injured.

          • Re:Defense (Score:4, Interesting)

            by RivenAleem (1590553) on Friday April 13, 2012 @08:39AM (#39671947)

            The IRA frequently sent warnings before it bombed.

            The IRA had a rapport with the media and the Gardaí. They had a codeword to confirm the bomb threat was legit. That doesn't mean that other bomb threats were ignored, but just that the IRA never gave fake threats, and almost always gave time to evacuate. The IRA was always very disciplined and often adhered to ceasefires and supported the political process. This is evidenced by the fact that they stopped when they felt that it was no longer necessary to continue their campaign.

            A lot of people would have said that the IRA were just thugs getting revenge for the Black & Tans, or other injustices perpetrated by the British, but they were very well organised and lead and were achieving a specific goal. They were the stick to Sinn Féin's carrot. The 'political wing' of the IRA were always pushing for a peaceful solution to the NI crisis, but were often not heeded, or not taken seriously.

            I think that while some of the things they have done are unforgivable, they were definitely understandable, and never random. I think things in Ireland would be so much worse now if the IRA weren't a level headed as they were and if the political process that operated in tandem wasn't as effective and wanted as it was.

            The problem with the US's war on terror, is that:
            a) The terrorists are not taken seriously.
            When your 'defense' against terrorism is the TSA all but violating the general public, then you are not securing your people against terror attacks, and thus leave yourself open to the "Bomb in the crowd" attack.
            b) The US has little or no interest in a political solution, they are treating it like a war and chant "USA USA USA" when they kill a figurehead of the terror movement, instead of trying to resolve the differences and problems that invariably they themselves created, when they traded arms to the very people not committing these attacks.

            The UK saw the IRA as a very real and serious threat, and recognised Ireland bid for freedom as legitimate. The problem was and always will be the 6 counties that don't want to leave the UK. It has been seen that the UK is mature about it's sovereignty when it gave back Hong Kong as agreed, because that is what most people there wanted. I'm certain that if the 6 counties all wanted to leave the UK and merge with the republic, then it would happen. Personally, I think that ship has sailed.

            So, there's a fine line between simple terrorism, and pursuing a guerrilla war on your home soil. You plant a bomb, and inform the media and police force and then detonate (or not, the threat is often enough). Because what you really want to say is "We could, at any time, detonate one of these without warning" So a serious terror/guerrilla group will not send hoax calls, as that serves them nothing.

      • Re:Defense (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sperbels (1008585) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:10PM (#39666247)
        Desensitization to what? Why would a real bomber warn anyone? I'm wondering... in the whole country, how many bomb threats actually turned out to be real? Have there even been any real ones? At some point we just have to say this is ridiculous and ignore them.
        • Re:Defense (Score:5, Informative)

          by Spudley (171066) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:24PM (#39666479) Homepage Journal

          Why would a real bomber warn anyone?

          Many terrorist groups routinely send bomb warnings when they have planted a bomb. During the troubles in Northern Ireland, the practice was so common that the IRA and the police had recognised code words they could use so that the police would know it was a real bomb rather than a hoax call.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          at one of my junior high school's semi-annual bomb threats (at least twice a year), the dogs went crazy over a locker in the boys' locker room. turned out to be rotting gym clothes. so you see, some good does come of fake bomb threats. and the kid assigned to that locker never lived it down.
      • Re:Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:12PM (#39666281)

        This "desensitization" theory is something I keep hearing, and it's absolutely silly. Ridiculous.

        You're saying that someone who wants to maximize impact by catching people off-guard would:

        1. Sensitize people to a potential threat
        2. Work for a long time to then re-desensitize them to said threat
        3. Act.

        It seems the net result would be exactly the same if one skipped straight to step 3 without making any threats in the first place.

        • by chrismcb (983081)

          It seems the net result would be exactly the same if one skipped straight to step 3 without making any threats in the first place.

          Based on the comments I've already seen in this thread, it seems that following these steps would be WAY worse than going straight to step 3.

        • Re:Defense (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Altrag (195300) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:43PM (#39668867)

          Absolutely not. Surprisingly enough, most people aren't all that excited about murdering dozens or hundreds of innocents. Some will do so with enough provocation, and you get the odd psychopath who really is hell-bent on killing, but for the most part the idea of a "terrorist" is to spread "terror", not outright kill people. Killing people spreads terror to be sure, but there are other ways to do so that don't involve destroying your own soul (or not so much of it, at least.)

          With your 3-step program, the goal step is actually step 2 -- a drawn out period of time when your target is afraid of you without you having to do much to incite the fear. Only after you've dragged out step 2 as long as you can possibly manage are you forced to move on to step 3 and reset the cycle.

          The entire world, primarily the US, are mired somewhere in the middle of step 2 still after 9/11. There's no reason for terrorist cells to risk attacking the US again until Homeland Security finally runs out of new ways to disrupt American life. The terrorists can just sit back and laugh as internally you all work yourselves into a paranoid frenzy, and externally you run around starting wars with random nations whose primarily link to terrorism is a shared religious background.

      • by Bogtha (906264)

        Who is to say this isn't a program of desensitisation

        Sounds like a good thing, people are far too sensitive at the moment.

        Anyway, what would the point of desensitisation be? If you want to blow someplace up and you don't want people to evacuate, you don't conduct a protracted campaign of desensitisation so that they'll ignore your bomb threat, you just don't issue the bomb threat.

    • Re:Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NoobixCube (1133473) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:07PM (#39666201) Journal

      And who do you blame when the one you didn't take seriously is real? The Boy who Cried Wolf has two morals, you know. One for the child, to not make frivolous cries for help because someone may not come when you really need them to, and one for the adult, to treat every threat as credible, because this one could be it.

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        And who do you blame when the one you didn't take seriously is real?

        People will always find someone to blame. Look at all the finger pointing around 9/11 when people claimed the government was warned, and ignored the threat.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        No, there is one moral.
        When act outside acceptable social norms, you will be eaten by a wolf and no one will care.

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:28PM (#39666545) Journal

      Virginia Tech found a domestic murder case in a dorm five years ago, police came, followed standard procedure. Four hours later 30 more students and the assailant were dead after a horrific shooting spree on the opposite side of campus. Nothing like it had ever happened before on any US campus, and probably had never happened anywhere in the US in historical memory. Two of the victims parents sued the school for not notifying the student body earlier to warn them that the domestic violence case they had contained earlier that morning would erupt into the worst school shooting in US history, and won.

      You want to know how to destroy a school - stop responding to any threats, credible or not. If a real bomb does go off, the school will never survive.

      • by Sperbels (1008585) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:45PM (#39666783)

        You want to know how to destroy a school - stop responding to any threats, credible or not. If a real bomb does go off, the school will never survive.

        The real threat seems to be the lawyers.

        • Yeah, I originally had a tag line ...or kill all the lawyers. I may as well ask for a pony and free beer if I go that far, though.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          No, teh real threat is a jury that sees an emotion mother and then stops thinking about the merits of the case.

      • by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @07:56PM (#39667529)

        Two of the victims parents sued the school for not notifying the student body earlier to warn them that the domestic violence case they had contained earlier that morning would erupt into the worst school shooting in US history, and won.

        No, that's a over-simplification of what happened. There were several issues [virginia.gov].

        The campus police department didn't have the authority, nor the mechanism to directly issue an emergency alert to the student body telling them "to stay inside and lock their doors because a shooter was on the loose", so even when they knew what was happening, which took a very long while in itself, they still couldn't notify the entire school without going first through an outdated manual and a barrage of school officials that acted as the gatekeepers to that system.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        There is a difference of knowing a gunman has killed two and is at large, then random bomb threat.

        And it was a murder case, not a domestic violence case. They thought the murder that occurred was spurred from domestic violence..and it was.

        Not that warning the student body would have done anything other then put a bunch more targets in the gun mans sights.

  • bad writing
  • I always taught that responding these threats was stupid. No terrorist is dumb enough to tell you where will they strike.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:07PM (#39666197)

      The IRA often called in ahead of time about bombs they had placed.

      • Completely true.
        Mod this up

      • by geekoid (135745)

        And they identified themselves.
        The lesson? when the IRA calls about putting a bomb there, evacuate.

        • by hob42 (41735)

          "Hello, this is the IRA, there is a bomb in Building X of the University of Pittsburgh. Have a nice day."

        • > The lesson? when the IRA calls about putting a bomb there, evacuate.

          Ugh you have no idea and have never read about the Troubles. Any number of kooks call pretending to be the IRA. You can't listen to all of them. Work it out.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Because they didn't actually want to hurt people, and they knew that their threats will be responded. If the system had been different they would have either bombed abandoned buildings or detonated during the night.

    • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:12PM (#39666301) Homepage Journal

      Actually, some do. The IRA was famous for telling people where their bombs were going to be. Real bombs, too. It achieves an awful lot of terror with less blood on your hands: they know that the bomb could have gone off. As long as there's some blood on your hands, your opponents know that you're willing to do it. Most of the terror, far less mess.

      The goal of terrorism is to make people so upset that they give in to your demands. In this case, it may be simply to make people upset. It's working very well.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        citation?

        I remember them doing it, but can't find any info.

        If memory serves(and it may not) they initially took credit after the blasts. Once taken seriously they would call it in before..along with false threats.

        • by horza (87255) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @08:04PM (#39667605) Homepage

          You should try Google, it often can find interesting information. For example you could type in "ira code bomb". The search engine can also find information on many other subjects.

          Phillip.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The early attacks on service personnel and politicians were often without warning or with inadequate warnings. The Eniskillen bomb was without warning, as far as I recall. The Deal Barracks bombing in 1989 had no warning (considered cowardly because the victims were cadets). The Brighton Hotel bombing was warned of (in intelligence channels) but no coded warning was sent.

          Attacks on civilian targets sometimes did (late 80s and 90s attacks generally did): The Warrington campaign (1993) did have warnings but t

    • Then everyone, all students, their families, all staff, all faculty, have to sign a waiver enjoining them from suing in the event that there is a threat and it turns out to be genuine. Otherwise, the university must take everything seriously on account of if it happens to be real and they don't respond, they'll be sued in to non-existence.

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      I always taught that responding these threats was stupid. No terrorist is dumb enough to tell you where will they strike.

      You don't know history very well do you? Terrorism is about generating fear. You can do that with threats just as well with actual action.
      It sounds to me like this person is instilling a lot of terror, without having to do much other than sends some threats.

  • I think the solution to this problem is to ignore bomb threats when you have every reason to believe that they are fake.
    You simply cannot really catch someone if he does nothing other then writing notes and does not screw up.
    There are many ways you could go about informing the police/faculty of a bomb with no risk of getting caught.

    • I think the solution to this problem is to ignore bomb threats when you have every reason to believe that they are fake.

      Suppose you're sitting in a lecture, and the campus cops tap on the door to interrupt, and say "There's another bomb threat. You can evacuate or ignore it, at your choice."

      What do you do?

      • If I said there was a bomb under your chair right now, would you check?
        If it is not a credible threat then there is no reason to go out of your way.

        • > If I said there was a bomb under your chair right now, would you check?

          If I thought you had the power to put one there, I'd check.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Ignore it.

  • My money is either on a disgruntled ex-groundskeeper, or a computer security/polySci professor trying to make a point.
  • Have there been any mentions in the letters/emails as to why they're making the threats? Did someone fail an exam, want to get OUT of exams...?

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:16PM (#39666361) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps they shouldn't have set up the "submit an anonymous bomb threat" web site?
  • It's just a false-flag event to shut down anonymity online. Before you know it a bill is going to be introduced to make anonymous email illegal.

  • Not just Pitt (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:25PM (#39666501) Journal

    Lots of universities in the Pittsburgh area are getting bomb threats. I know CCAC is getting a bunch of them, too. They're now checking everyone's bags when they go into the building.

  • Power Grab (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrQuacker (1938262) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:25PM (#39666503)

    Soon enough someone will catch on that they can really increase their law enforcement power/budget/detail/department, pass some laws, and maybe get rid of some civil rights because of this. If enough people get pissed off enough, they will happily trade some freedoms for making this all go away.

    I'm surprised the TSA hasn't jumped in on this, setting up checkpoints and searching people anywhere they want on campus. Its the perfect situation to lend credibility to their viper program.

  • Cut internet access. Force this jack ass to use a phone. More easily traceable.

  • Over several days, make sure that the message gets out that when the perp is finally caught (And he or she will be caught) they will be killed. Slowly. In public. Their skin will be shaved off, and they will be tossed in a pit where people will pee on them. Sea water will be dumped in and sharks will be added. Problem solved.

    Then, once the perp is caught, shave their skin off and toss him or her in a pit for people to pee on them. Then toss in sea water and add sharks.

    If you can fish his or her head out

    • by PRMan (959735)

      There is some truth to this.

      I had a friend from Afghanistan (pre-Taliban) and he said that you could leave a bag of gold coins on the passenger seat of your car with the coins coming out onto the seat, with the windows rolled down and the doors unlocked. And nobody would touch it. Why? Because if you were caught they cut your hand off. And they only had to cut off about 8 hands per year, because everyone else got the message.

      • There's the problem of being falsely accused, but, by and large, the lack of real, tangible, painful consequences from our actions is a big part of the reason why kids today are such little shits. I'm not saying beat the piss out of them, but, as a kid, when I goofed up in school - not honest mistakes, but exceptionally stupid things - our teachers had the liberty to turn those mistakes into painful learning experiences. And we did learn from them. Even the most truculent in my class shaped up after gett
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:30PM (#39666565) Journal

    Decentralize.

    Get rid of the campus, and operate entirely online. Students take their courses online, they get graded online, and because there is no central meeting place, there is no place that would make an effective bomb target, whether a warning is given or not.

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      Ahhh the old "don't use facebook" solution.
      "I know how to solve this problem. Destroy the university, so it no longer exists. Problem solved! Now the bomber will have to blow something else up, cause I didn't really solve anything."
      First of all a university is more than just a learning knowledge institution. It is supposed to be a gathering of ideas. A place for like minds to meet and discuss, and improve the knowledge of the world.
      Second of all, if you disperse one thing, the bomber will just target
    • First problem: some fields of study require hands-on experience under a trained eye, such as surgery.

      Second problem: An online university is much too generic. Many, many successful educational institutions will fail in the attempt to become online only.

      Third problem: Verification: prove that you took that test, that only one person watched that pay-per-view lecture.

      Fourth problem: need for a research library.

      There are already online universities, and while a changeover to a mostly online model will probably

  • by Spudley (171066) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:30PM (#39666583) Homepage Journal

    Is there any foreseeable defense (forensic or socially engineered) to a situation like this?

    Not if you also want an internet that maintains any kind of privacy.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:32PM (#39666609) Homepage
    the BOFH at the university of pittsburg shrugged and remarked, "check with that new CS PHD who just had to have his crontab restored on a saturday night. Its been filling up the outbound mail spool all damn day."
  • by Boycott BMG (1147385) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:44PM (#39666759) Journal
    At one university I went to, students who were not ready for their midterms did the fire alarm pull. At a different university, it was anonymous bomb threats via payphone. Anyone got any other delaying tactics at institutions they attended?
    • At one university I went to, students who were not ready for their midterms did the fire alarm pull. At a different university, it was anonymous bomb threats via payphone. Anyone got any other delaying tactics at institutions they attended?

      Just tell the professor you need more time.
      9 times out of 10 they'll give it to you.
      If they don't, go to the Registrar's office and fill out the "I'm sad / I have ADD / I got pragnant / I'm too stressed / Woe is me" form. There's a form for everything, and it gets you endless amounts of stupid rights - retake tests, make up projects, get a free tutor, free shrink session, whatever.
      Today, a distressed student is both coddled and feared.

  • ... some idiot student is laughing at how easy it is to throw the school into a frenzy and have an excuse to not go to the classes that his parents would otherwise force him to attend.

    I hope they catch the "bomber".

  • by PPH (736903)

    They'll track some trace DNA evidence on one of the earlier handwritten notes back to the perp. If that won't work, they can do a simple chemical analysis of the ink used and track all purchasers of that brand of pen to the suspect. Failing that, there are certainly some ATM cameras within a few thousand yards whose image, when suitably blown up, will give a clear photo of the person delivering the note.

    But as we all know, its just a matter of having that blond gal with the thick glasses and pigtails back

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @08:17PM (#39667707)
    This is terrorism done right. Except the threat frequency should be dialed down to the point where each one must be viewed as credible. And the program should be duplicated across hundreds of campuses across the United States. Not to mention other facilities besides universities. And, every once in a while, one of the threats should turn out to be genuine, just to keep people honest. Cheap and effective.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

Working...