Gaming the Spammer

Kids these days... All they want is a MySpace account and a PlayStation 2

5:45 PM -- So what if I'm the meanest, most unfair mom in the world because my 14-year-old daughter isn't allowed to put up a MySpace account and my 11-year-old son doesn't have a PlayStation or an XBox?

Wait until they see what I might have bought them for Christmas: the MySecureCyberSpace Game, developed by Carnegie Mellon and i-SAFE. It's an online game that teaches kids about the myths and dangers of sharing information, meeting strangers, and catching malware on the Internet. (See Security Takes a Holiday.) Here's what CMU says about the game:

"Superheroes, villains, and the next generation of Cyberspace cadets are all characters in this space-age, high tech game where young boys and girls have fun and earn prizes while they learn about the dangers caused by Internet viruses and battle cyber criminals."

Space-age dangers, battles, Cyberdefenders -- all big draws for my son, at least. Commander Omni, head of the Cyberdefenders, helps the players learn to detect and prevail over cybervillains such as Elvirus and MC Spammer who lurk in chat rooms or on Websites, spreading malware and doing other cyber misdeeds aimed at kids. The game won't be available until spring 2007, and it will be distributed to thousands of schools around the nation. The preview looked fun, and well, cool.

Oh, and you don't need a MySpace account or a game system to battle the bots or stifle the spammers. Which means I'll get to keep my title of meanest mom in the world.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Editors' Choice
Kelly Jackson Higgins 2, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading