Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Heartbleed Bug Breaches Security PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

heartbleed_logoOne of the largest security vulnerabilities the internet has ever experienced allowed thousands of websites to be susceptible to hackers as a result of a flaw created in the open SSL server over two years ago.

The Heartbleed bug had the potential to affect 66 percent of websites worldwide, Edward Christensen, Vice President of Information Management, said in an email to University students on April 21.

The Heartbleed bug has the ability to send an invalid heartbeat message to a server and retrieve 64k of information stored in the memory, Jan Rohn, a specialist professor in the computer science and software engineering department, said.

The information returned from the 64K that was stored may include the encryption keys for that network which, if retrieved, allows the hackers to read the encrypted information being shared, Rohn explained. The information that is shared through a network often includes a user's passwords and other personal information which would be accessible.

"What this flaw did was allow the potential for somebody to get the encryption key, which is really another way of saying they get the magic decoder ring and they can read all the messages coming in," Christen said.

Therefore, all of the information that is being communicated between the user and the server through the website has the possibility of being accessed as a result of the Heartbleed bug.

Christensen explained that if a hacker had access to the server flaw and determined a way to intercept the messages being sent between the user and the website, the hacker would be able to obtain the information being communicated.

Also through this server, the hacker would have the ability to access the information from all people who log into the website using that server, therefore they now have the keys to that website and the ability to retrieve the passwords of all the people that log in to it, Christensen explained.

So far, the Washington Post has confirmed one hacker that used the Heartbleed flaw to obtain information. A 19-year-old Canadian male, Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes, was arrested on April 15 and the computer he used to hack into the server was seized. The Washington Post reported that the Canada Revenue Agency found that Solis-Reyes stole 900 social security numbers using Heartbleed.

Matthew Lawrence Receives Home Grown Feature Award PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

two-pints-lighterSpecialty communication professor Matthew Lawrence was awarded the Home Grown Feature award at the Garden State Film Festival for his film "Two Pints Lighter" on March 23.

Lawrence, who teaches video production courses at the University, said he wanted to try directing and producing a feature for quite some time.

"Up to this point, I had produced several shorts, so this seemed like the next logical step," said Lawrence. "By sheer coincidence, around this time, I read a short screenplay that a friend of mine had written and really enjoyed the premise. I then developed that idea into what is now 'Two Pints Lighter' with the help of my best friend, Ryan Conrath, who also plays the lead in the film."

The Garden State Film Festival is hosted annually in Atlantic City to promote and celebrate the independent film genre.

The festival's mission was "founded to promote the art of filmmaking on all levels by showcasing a wide variety of film, video and animated works as well as provide educational programs in the creative arts to the public by industry leaders," according to their website.

Dr. Chad Dell, Chair of the Department of Communication, said, "Professor Lawrence is a very talented filmmaker, and this award is recognition of his considerable skill and creativity."

Kim Shephard, a senior communication major who attended the viewing of the film, said, "I'm so happy for him winning this award; he deserves it. He is a great professor who exercises his passion in and out of the classroom."

Lawrence said even with all of his production experience, he did not anticipate how much of an undertaking the film would be. "The film took me about three years (of working on it consistently, mind you) from the initial idea to the first screening we had in Asbury Park last March," said Lawrence.

First NJ Students to take PRSA Certificate Test PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PRSA_colorThree University communication students will be the first in New Jersey to take the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations test through the University Accreditation Board (UAB).

Killian Ferdine, Jessica Rinaldi and Brittany Bogdan, all senior communication majors, will take the test.

Kristine Simoes, a specialist professor of communication and the President of the Public Relations Society of America New Jersey section (PRSA NJ), said that she has been telling her public relations students about the certificate and the three girls wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

"This certificate enables these emerging professionals a more competitive edge in the job market," said Simoes.

Simoes and Mary Harris, a specialist professor of communication, faculty members from Seton Hall University, Dr. Kathleen Donohue Rennie and a PRSA member have been preparing the three students for the test.

"This is the first time this exam prep course is being offered with the support of two major universities," said Simoes. "[Seton Hall University] and [the University's public relations] programs are nationally accredited by PRSA which is rare as they are two of just 40 or so in the country to have earned such distinction."

The Certificate in Principles of Public Relations is viewed as a Pre-Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), Simoes said. She explained that people who are seeking an APR can use the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations as a stepping stone towards it.

The students' five week preparation for the test, which they must take within six months, has begun. Every couple of weeks the students meet on a Saturday morning with Simoes and Donohue at either the University or Seton Hall University, according to Rinaldi. "So far the exam [preparation] has been great," said Rinaldi. "We have a study guide that we go through chapter by chapter, talk about potential exam questions and then are expected to study on our own time."

Simoes said she and Harris had to prepare handouts and specific materials for the students on topics that are going to be covered on the exam. Some of the topics include; the history of public relations, media relations, ethics and law, business literacy, social media, related public relations theories and research methods, Simoes explained.

HERO Night for Designated Drivers Held at Local Business PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

John-ElliotThe University's HERO Campaign Committee hosted their 5th annual event at Jack's Goal Line Stand on Thursday, April 17 to raise awareness about the need for sober drivers.

Gary Mejia, a designated driver and recipient of the HERO Campaign award in 2011, said it is important to make people conscious of the effects of drinking and driving, and what they can do to prevent it.

"The group is important because it raises awareness for a serious issue, which is drinking and driving, especially on college campuses where drinking is a part of the culture," Mejia said. "The more people that can get involved, the better the message can be transmitted."

During the event, members of the HERO Campaign asked guests to sign a pledge stating that they would not drink and drive. If participants signed, they were given a free slice of pizza from Jack's. The group also handed out wristbands, stickers, t-shirts and cab vouchers as prizes for games like skee ball.

Steve Dowens, a University graduate assistant working for the Office of Substance Awareness, said the group has a close relationship with Jack's Goal Line Stand, which helps the office to support their cause.

"When someone makes the pledge, the HERO Campaign honors that support with items or prizes that further promotes designated driving," Dowens said. "Jack's also offers free soft drinks for anyone who mentions they are the designated driver for the night and the drinks come in a HERO Campaign cup."

Dowens believes the event at Jack's Goal Line Stand is one that has a positive influence on college students. "Promoting designated drivers at a bar has a different and hopefully stronger effect on people than if it were on campus," added Dowens.

Katey McElroy, a senior psychology major, agrees that having the event at a bar is beneficial. "Most of the time people are going to need a ride home because they've been drinking, and having the event at the place where it actually happens just reiterates the fact that we need to be smart about our decisions," she said. "It's right in our faces – if you drink, you need a sober driver."

Household Rat Poison Linked to Wildlife Deaths PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The mountain lion known as P-22 looked majestic just a few months ago in a trail-camera photo shot against the backdrop of the Hollywood sign.

But when a remote camera in Griffith Park captured an image of the puma more recently, it showed a thinner and mangy animal. Scientists sedated him and drew blood samples. They found evidence of exposure to rat poisons.

Now, researchers say they suspect a link between the poisons and the mange, a parasitic skin disease that causes crusting and skin lesions and has contributed to the deaths of scores of bobcats and coyotes. A National Park Service biologist applied a topical treatment for mange and injected Vitamin K to offset the effects of poisoning.

The condition of California's famous cougar is likely to intensify the debate over the use of rat poisons in areas of the state where urban living collides with nature.

Nearly 20 municipalities throughout California, including San Francisco, Calabasas and Malibu, have passed resolutions urging residents not to purchase and businesses not to sell "second-generation" anticoagulant rodenticides, said Jonathan Evans, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit group based in San Francisco. P-22 was afflicted by two older "first-generation" rat poisons, which he probably ingested by eating other wildlife.

The maker of d-CON, a leading rat poison, is fighting efforts to ban sales of its product to consumers, arguing that it is safe when properly used. The company contends that by eliminating consumer access to one type of effective, affordable rodent control, California runs the risk of increasing the use of alternative products that contain powerful _ and potentially more harmful _ neurotoxins.

During nearly two decades of research in and around the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, park service scientists have documented widespread exposure in carnivores to common household poisons. Of 140 bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions evaluated, 88 percent tested positive for one or more anticoagulant compounds. Scores of animals are known to have died from internal bleeding, researchers said.

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