Congress president Sonia Gandhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi

The police recently arrested an engineering student from Kochi (Kerala) for sending an email message to President of India  threatening Congress president Sonia Gandhi and bomb blasts in Kochi and Delhi.

The accused was a B. Tech. student of Cochin University of Science and Technology, and the incident points to poor quality of education in our universities not to speak of colleges.

The boy had sent the email not with the intention of killing anybody but to take revenge on a girl who had rejected his love.

He did not know that his email could easily be traced to him. Though he is a B. Tech student, he seems not to have even preliminary knowledge of how the Internet works- the system of protocols and things like header information and logs. If he had known that, he would not have taken the risk of sending an email in such a silly manner. It is also clear that he does not know anything about proxy servers and the like which makes tracing of messages difficult. (In this case, use of proxy servers would have only delayed the investigation. As the threat is against a VIP, even those running proxy servers abroad would disclose the logs. )

mailThe student had used an email id he had created with personal information about his girl friend. He thought that the police would go after the girl when they find out the name and account details.  Apparently, he did not have a good appreciation of timestamps appearing on the emails. (The headers have information about the path taken by the message from server to server with time stamp). Otherwise, he would have known the police would check where the girl was at the time of sending the message. (And probably where he was; even if they had not traced him using the Internet protocol address of the sending machine).

All these point to the fact that the students are not learning even basics of Internet technology in their classes. Even if they do, it is only theory that they fail to connect to their applications. It is high time that we revamped our education system. Not only engineering students, but other students too should have basic knowledge about the working of the Internet. This would save them from committing foolish crimes. (Unless the courts are lenient, the student could attract a sentence of up to ten years in prison.) More than that, it could help to save them from identity thieves, scamsters behind the Nigerian email scam and other scams, spoofing and much more. And the police would not have to go after inconsequential threats.