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For Cybersecurity Awareness, Follow SecureIT

In February, a questionable e-mail message reached the inboxes of many members of the Fordham community. While the e-mail purported to contain useful information from the University, it was really a manifestation of a common cyber-attack known as “phishing.”

Phishing schemes are e-mails, websites and pop-up windows designed to mislead the user into clicking on a link that contains malicious software. Shortly after the Feb. 23 e-mail, the University Information Security Office (UISO) identified it as a phishing e-mail.

Well-designed e-mail phishing schemes can sometimes temporarily bypass the spam and virus filters in place at Fordham. Though the UISO could not prevent delivery of all of the phishing e-mails, it broadcast the message as a security threat. Fordham e-mail users can protect themselves by using proper precautions.

Phishing scams will appear to be from an organization with which you normally associate, such as a bank, government agency or Fordham. The message will typically ask you to “update,” “confirm” or “validate” your account information via a URL. This URL will look legitimate, but is, in fact, bogus.

The following tips are ways to identify spam and phishing scams:

• Fordham will NEVER ask you for personally identifiable information such as bank accounts, social security or credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, full name and/or date of birth.

• Watch out for phone numbers in an e-mail. They could be fake. To be safe, use the phone numbers listed on your financial statements and/or the back of your credit card.

• Most e-mails from organizations will be addressed to you if they are requesting personal information. Although this is not always the case, be aware of e-mails that are very generic and not specific to you, e.g., “Dear Trusted Chase Customer.”

• Most organizations use secure connections when it comes to entering personal information, so always look out for websites starting with HTTPS:// The “S” stands for secure whereas HTTP:// is not a secure connection.

• Always hover your mouse pointer over the Web links to view the actual URL to which you would be connecting. The link would be listed in the status bar in the bottom of your browser or e-mail. To be safe, manually enter the URL of a trusted site yourself in a new browser window. For instance, the link may send you to when you should manually enter

• Be aware of any e-mails from organizations asking you to open file attachments, as most information is available on their websites.

• Be skeptical about any and all information in an unsolicited e-mail.

• Avoid opening e-mails with suspicious subject titles or from e-mail addresses you do not recognize.

The UISO maintains several communications channels to inform the Fordham community of phishing attacks when they arise.

Students Issue Microfinance Loans in Kenya

This bead-making collective in a small village in Kenya was among the woman-run businesses Fordham CBA students visited on a 2006 trip in which they researched microfinance loans.

Photo courtesy of Kate Combellick, Ph.D.

Students in an international service-learning program run by the College of Business Administration (CBA) have offered microfinance loans to two women-run startup businesses in Kenya. The loans are funded with profits from a fair trade campus business the students have been running for more than three years.

The students traveled to Kenya last month to help the women establish their businesses by designing marketing plans and other necessary aspects of a startup.

It is the culmination of more than three years of work by students and Katherine Combellick, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of international service learning (ISL).

“Banks in Kenya seem to have a blind spot when lending to the poor, so we studied microfinance credit and designed the two loans. I gave them out over Christmas break, and our team of eight students visited the recipients, along with our Fair Trade business partners in Kenya, during spring break,” Combellick said.

Microfinance is an economic model by which loans of a few hundred dollars and other monetary services are provided to impoverished people who have virtually no collateral.

Along with Combellick, six students traveled to Kenya in 2006 and toured Fair Trade businesses on the outskirts of Nairobi, the capital city, and Nyabigena. They set out to help women in these villages start new enterprises through microfinance.

The group met with women who were interested in starting a sewing collective, and others who were willing to start a small bead-making enterprise. While visiting a soap-stone collective in Nyabigena run mostly by men, the group quickly realized how difficult it is for women to start even the smallest business in Kenya, where they are not allowed to inherit land or money.

So the students devised another way to help. They bought thousands of dollars of soapstone goods, including artfully prepared handmade crucifixes and chess sets, which they sell at Fordham and continue to reorder.

“With the money we paid to buy our initial soapstone, the carvers created a school for their children,” Combellick said. “The profits from the soapstone collective sometimes are given to the school to pay teachers’ salaries, so I feel we have sparked a beneficial business and educational endeavor.

—Gina Vergel

‘Response’ Screening Brings Taste of Gitmo to Fordham

Sig Libowitz as Captain Miller, listening to

Thousands of pages of transcripts detailing the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals were the basis for The Response, a roughly 30-minute film that takes the audience inside a fictional prisoner hearing.

Response filmmakers joined Fordham Law faculty members on March 9 to screen the film and discuss its creation and the prisoner situation at Guantanamo.

“When I read the transcripts of what was really going on in Guantanamo, I thought, this is amazing,” said Sig Libowitz, who wrote and directed the film, and played one of the military captains on the tribunal. “Before reading the cases, I thought I had a pretty good sense of it. But I was just stunned.”

One half of the film depicts the hearing of a fictional prisoner named Al-Aquar, who maintains his innocence and repeatedly asks to see evidence that links him to al-Qaida. His frustration mounts when military personnel tell him that he is forbidden from having access to that information. Al-Aquar’s hope for freedom vanishes when he comes to the conclusion that the tribunal is not the fair hearing that he had expected.

“I could definitely hear my clients’ voices in the character of Al-Aquar,” said Martha Rayner, clinical associate professor of law, who founded the International Justice Clinic at Fordham Law to provide legal aid to the detainees. “Initially, many men at Guantanamo had a lot of faith in the hearing process. It was the first time they had the opportunity to be heard in front of a decision maker. But eventually they saw that the hearings were not meant to give them the chance to defend themselves.”

The Response has been hailed by reviewers for presenting the legal conundrum that detainees face while also depicting arguments both for and against keeping the suspected terrorists behind bars.

“I’ve had friends who have been on tribunals, both in the first Iraq war and in the second. They’ve told me that these are really hard decisions,” said Eric Jensen, visiting assistant professor of law. “We know that al-Qaida coaches their insurgents in what to say if they are captured. And we know that people have been turned over to U.S. forces just for the bounty.”

The film also features actors other including Kate Mulgrew and Peter Riegert. Its presentation at Forham was sponsored by the Forum on Law, Culture and Society and the Leitner Center for International Law.

—Joseph McLaughlin







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