Professor hopeful new computer science class will have viral effect

Kaylee Remington

New course to teach safe computing to students

As soon as computer science professor Michael Rothstein heard the word “virus,” he was on the Internet looking up facts and figures about viruses around the world.

In Fall 2009, Rothstein will turn his passion into a course called User Level Computer Security. The course will be a learning opportunity for safe computing.

The course is a new development in the information security section of the computer science department. It will serve as a gateway course into graduate level information security classes.

The course will address viruses, worms, phishing, identity theft and spam, and how they can harm a computer. It is open to anyone interested.

“I want to make people aware of what’s out there,” Rothstein said.

Other goals of the class are to expose people to some of the tools that computer science can provide and help people gain more computer knowledge.

Robert Walker, chair of the department, said the class is an alternative to Intro to Computer Science. The course is freshman-level and requires no prerequisites for other majors.

“It’s sort of an experiment,” Walker said.

Rothstein has three basic steps for teaching students how to keep their computers safe: firewall, virus checker and updates.

“Since we are moving toward an online society, it’s becoming more relevant,” Walker said.

The course is not directed toward just computer science majors but other majors, too.

“I hope it to be a fun class with people who like to fiddle with computers,” Rothstein said.

Morgaine Etheridge, freshman education major, said she hasn’t had any type of virus on her computer.

“I have a lot of spyware and firewalls,” she said.

But Etheridge said she would take the class because she likes computers and would like to learn more.

“We have not done something like this before,” Walker said. “I think it’s got the potential to be a very popular course.”

Kim Smith, first year graduate student of music education, said she probably wouldn’t take the class because she isn’t worried about getting viruses.

“It hasn’t happened to me yet,” Smith said. “Usually if there’s a computer problem, I just refer to my dad.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Kaylee Remington at [email protected].