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The Social Network and college internet

rbouwensrbouwens Registered User Posts: 936 Member
edited January 2012 in College Computers
Ok, I love the movie with Jesse Eisenburg, but I would like someone to explain to me how he got the school's wifi to crash.....that is what he did, right? He got so many people to go on and what.....?

Is a college's wifi internet connection different from, say, the one at my house? How would having a bunch of people on the internet at much make it crash? Do colleges have their own connection or something? If enough people in the world got online at once, would it crash like in the movie?

Also, I think I remember that the individual dorms at "Harvard" had their own networks or something.....what does that mean? I think he hacked into another dorm's internet??

I'm assuming that most schools don't have seperate networks for their dorms....what exactly is a network?

How does someone "hack" into someone else's account? A few years ago a senior at my hs hacked into the school's network or something and played a prank.....how do you do that without a password????

If you're wondering, I am computer-illiterate.
Post edited by rbouwens on

Replies to: The Social Network and college internet

  • blackjack21blackjack21 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I'm not in college yet, but am very good with computers, so lets see if I can answer some of your questions.

    A college wifi connection would be essentially the same as one at home, only differences being the college should have access to much much more bandwidth (data/speed) than you can get at home. And the range is most likely much larger, due to more powerful antennae.

    If everyone in the world went on the internet at once would it crash the internet? the short answer is no. Long answer- the internet is connections between your computer and a server (set of computers) that someone runs a website on, if enough people visit that server at the same time they will run out of bandwidth and the website will effectively stop working. People actually did this a couple days ago to the fbi website, department of justice website, and some other websites, in protest.

    It would make sense for a college to have each dorm/area on a separate network, it is far more organized that one large network covering the whole campus, but in the end all of the bandwidth you are getting is coming from basically one hardwired connection that the university decides to split up between these separate networks.

    And as to how someone could get into a computer without the password, that is exactly what one definition (though not the original) of "hacking" is. If you do not understand much about computers it would be pointless to describe any of the many different ways this is possible, though to someone with the right knowledge it is not all that difficult (for example I have done this before).

    hopefully this has answered some of your questions, if you had the patience to read it that is.
  • excelblueexcelblue Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    This question will take a really long answer, but I'll see if I can very concisely answer a few main points:

    WiFi crashing: the internet is like a highway. When too many people try to use it, it jams. If it's several times over capacity, traffic will slow to a standstill and nobody will be able to get on. The same happens with the internet, where individual packets of data are like the cars. Except, after some certain amount of time (called the timeout), they are considered stale and no longer transmitted. This is equivalent to downtime.

    "Networks": this is actually a misnomer. A network is actually just a bunch of things connected together communicating with each other. What the movie refers to is the fact that each dorm had its own website that contained info about the people who lived there. However, browsing through them manually is slow. What happened the movie was that Mark wrote scripts to automatically extract all the information while bypassing all the mechanisms that slowed him down. It's like grabbing an item off the top shelf in a store that asks you to not grab them.

    As for hacking: it's really no different than how you exploit things in the real world. You know how people who leave laptops unattended, doors unlocked, or use fake security cameras? Or, how about those who people pretend to be contractors / inspectors and dupe businesses into letting them into restricted files and areas? It's the same with hacking a computer system: if the system is not completely secured, there will be ways to bypass the security. With software being as complicated as it is, there's often security oversights in poorly built software. Understanding exactly where and what those holes are is the hard part: you got to really understand the system completely to figure it out.

    As for high-school level hacking: that's usually exploiting one of these assumptions:
    1.) If you know the password, you are an authorized user.
    2.) If someone recently typed in the correct password, you are authorized.

    For example, the stereotypical Facebook hack is an example of 2. The authorized user (account owner) typed in the password and then left. You go on it, and Facebook still believes that you are the authorized user and lets you act on his/her behalf.
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