Unappreciated knowledge

Dawson College’s decision to expel a student after he discovered a serious security flaw in their system is a harsh, unnecessary course of action.

By warning the college about the sloppy coding that made over 250,000 students’ personal information easily accessible last fall, Ahmed Al-Khabaz pointed out a crucial error in the Omnivox software used by the school. While he was initially congratulated for his discovery, the college quickly expelled him after he ran a test to ensure the problem was fixed.

There are many dishonest things he could’ve done with the private information the college had accidentally made accessible.

However, he chose to warn the school of their error, helping them solve a problem that could’ve gotten them in much more trouble.

It’s a shame that the school has taken such drastic steps against a student who was helping them out of good will.

In trying to protect its reputation through Al-Khabaz’s expulsion, Dawson College’s administration appears instead as if they’re sore losers in a case where they were in the wrong.

The school isn’t the first one to encounter these sorts of problems.

Last fall, Wilfrid Laurier University faced a similar security breach of their students’ personal information.

Hopefully the incident at Dawson will raise awareness about online privacy at other schools.

We live in a time when anyone can learn basic coding and even hacking outside of the classroom.

Those with coding expertise, such as Al-Khabaz, should be seen as highly valuable assets to post-secondary institutions, not security threats.

Through Al-Khabaz’s expulsion, Dawson College shows that they’re ultimately unwilling to adapt to shifting times.

Today’s generation of students’ has invaluable skills that educational institutions can capitalize on.

They should learn to respect and reward them instead of punish them, as was done in Al-Khabaz’s case.

— Journal Editorial Board


online, security

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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