Security Issues due to bad Mail Practices: The LyonMUN case

Keep your data safe!

So many associations use GMail for their general communication with members. Often, this comprises the sending of newsletters. Recently, the organisers of the UN politics simulation MUN LyonMUN leaked this way by accident a large number of participants mail addresses (mine as well). I decided to raise awareness of the security risks by a little experiment and also to test the reaction of the organisers.


On Friday 0:251, I received a mail from the organisers of this year’s [Model United Nations] (MUN) conference in Lyon called LyonMUN. The mail has been sent from to 222 people, that either participated in earlier editions in the conference or already signed up for this year’s edition. Purpose of the mailing: promote the upcoming edition and urge people to pay the conference fees.

The problems in here are:

  • The sender mail address is difficult to verify (I come back to this later).
  • All 222 people have now the mail addresses of all others. That means, many personal mail addresses have been assumably accidentally leaked by the organisers.

Due to the way mail works, you cannot undo a mail once it has been sent. The only possible measures are to inform the data subjects in a transparent manner on the incident and potential security implications and to take precautions to prevent future incidents.

I made a bad experience when I made during the last year’s edition LyonMUN 2016 in the role of a participant the remark that one aspect of their conference may intimidate the participants: They offered to allow sending anonymously roses to individual participants with a message read out loud by the organisers in front of the assembly without prior consent of the receiver. I thought this may open doors to potential bullying. The then president of LyonMUN Mélanie Villar and now secretary general just made a IMHO snide remark and that’s all what happened. I was certainly a bit disappointed and expected a debate taking into account that promoting debating is one of the purposes of MUN associations and events.

For that reason, I though of a more creative approach to initiate a discourse. It is not like security in the internet is not a topic for LyonMUN. On their website, the press team posted not even 2 weeks ago an article concerning cyber defence. Unfortunately, LyonMUN has apparently not adopted adequate measures on their own. Let’s see what happened!

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INSA Pedagogy Colloquium

Last week, I got the chance to present at the 5th Colloquium on Pedagogy my field report on the education of first years engineering students at INSA Lyon as I observed it during my soon 2 years teaching experience.

You may also want to read a communication entitled What does Active Learning Mean for Mathematicians? published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society (AMS, Vol. 64, Nr. 2) earlier this year (2017).

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Herbst-Gedicht (2016)

Place Louis Pradel (Opéra) in Lyon, France: Hatschi!
Place Louis Pradel (Opéra) in Lyon, France: Hatschi!

Nach meinem ersten Herbst-Gedicht aus dem Jahr 2010 nun 6 Jahre später ein versöhnliches Gedicht zur selben Jahreszeit.

Morgentliche Träumerei

Mühelos rolle ich den Berg hinunter
und biege ab, die Opéra zu meiner Rechten,
überquere die Rhône und werde munter.
Der Sonne Strahlen sich durch Morgennebel flechten.

Das gleißende Licht bringt mich zum Niesen,
und dass seit jeher an der selben Stelle.
Der Schein bricht sich im Tau der Uferwiesen,
auf dass ihr Glanz den jungen Tag erhelle.

Dann ungefähr eine halbe Stunde vor acht Uhr,
passiere ich die sonnengekrönte Präfektur.
Freilich kann man Sie vom Ufer aus nicht sehen,
dennoch kann ich dem Bann Ihrer nicht entgehen,
der es vermag meinen Gedanken ihren freien Lauf zu nehmen,
sie dort Kreise ziehen zu lassen und ganz für sich einzunehmen.

Derweil mein Rad mich weiter Richtung Süden trägt
und ich mich glücklich dieser Gegenwart besinne,
mein Herz mitunter völlig neue Rhythmen schlägt
und ich hellwach dem altgewohnten Trott entrinne.

Die Rhône ziert keine Welle, es verkehrt kein Frachter.
Sie erscheint ganz still und ruhig in ihrem Lauf,
doch verborgen dem oberflächlichen Betrachter,
birgt ihre Tiefe Bewegendes zuhauf.

Verfasst am 23. September 2016.

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Mailing-List 2.0: Discourse

You got a few people working on something and you seek for an efficient way to communicate (ideas, news, messages, etc.) online. This guide gives you an overview about what you could expect in the past and what you should ask for nowadays.


According to Wikipedia, the first mail was sent in 1971. The access to a network we call Internet today was quite limited in these early days. Users have been mostly universities, and I guess, not everyone, but mostly the STEM disciplines Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. So it comes at no surprise that mails are perceived as inconvenient and antiquated.

Mails are dead

Let’s summarise some downsides of mails:

  • You have to manage a mail address book and it will never be complete.
  • You cannot easily have group conversations. When sending a mail to many recipients, one has to rely on everyone maintaining the same recipient list. Individuals cannot quit such a group conversation.
  • E-Mails are hardly mashable. That means, you cannot include pictures, (Youtube) videos, Twitter quotes as you might know it from Social Networks. There are links and attachments. Everything else is mostly out of scope for an everyday user, even if it might be technical possible.
  • You do not receive confirmations once your mail has been received and read.
  • You cannot control who can send a mail to you.
  • You have to clean your inbox, delete mails, etc.
  • Long conversations with many replies of many participants are lacking a clear structure and can become quite confusing.
  • You cannot link to a mail. You have to send a copy every time.
  • You cannot take back a mail once you have sent it.
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Belgrade Model EU 2015 Documents

best-practice (paper-free) reading of EU regulations

Dear participants of the Model European Union simulation 2015,

I totally support the aim of the simulation organisers to print less paper during the conference. So I will provide, as I did last time, the juridical texts in various eBook formats! The text used in the conference are shortened! The original sources are probably these ones:

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Startup Hency - I don’t like it

Website Hency. © 2015
Website Hency. © 2015

Everyone likes startups. It’s the spirit of our time. If you want to be a real hipster, you need to be involved in or, if possible, the creative director of a startup. Then, you need to spread the word. The actual product seems to be unimportant.

I already wrote my opinion about the startups Viewsy and WikiStage. Today, I stumbled upon Hency and even though I like the initial idea, I find it so badly done that I felt a need to blog about this. The project is still very young (public beta), but this cannot be an excuse in my opinion. So let’s have a look.

Presentation of Hency

Hency's officially selected for the WebSummit Alpha program ! Meet us in Dublin from november 3 to 5 for the most exciting tech and startup event of the year ! ☺ A big thanks to our sponsor EMLYON Business School, thanks for your help, without you it couldn't be possible ! Also, thanks to Emlyon - Centrale Lyon Programme IDEA for your support ! ‪#‎Startup‬ ‪#‎DesignThinking‬ ‪#‎InsideIDEA‬ ‪#‎Innovation‬ ‪#‎Onourwaytothesummit‬

This is what I have found on my Facebook. The authors of this project prefer to stay incognito. I guess that Jimmy is somehow involved. Let’s try to decrypt some information from this post. EMLYON, a very prestigious elite university in France, Lyon, is the sponsor. Support was given as well from the IDEA program of the Centrale Lyon that is just another elite university. Most students of EMLYON pay in comparison to most European higher education programs enormous fees. So here, they got a a kind of refund.

The used hash tags are not very surprising and belong to the standard canon, to the pop culture of the students from this program. However, I’m always curious about innovation. So I eventually clicked on their website

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Too much Spam (on Facebook)

Blocking websites
Blocking websites

Facebook tries to adapt the personal stream in such a way that we like it. However, the result is not perfect.

Crawling the Facebook timeline

I confess: I spend too much time on facebook. How much? It does’t matter, every moment seems too much. There is not only Spam (sometimes referred to as promoted content, read: commercial, payed content), but also Hoaxes, Scam and selfies.

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Stories from Berlin: At the Beach Bar in Mitte

Bode Museum on Museum Island as seen from Strandbar Mitte. Photo: Günter Steffen

This is a post about payment systems, bottle deposit and pragmatism of the people from Berlin at one of the very original outdoor bars in the heart of the city of Berlin. What happened?

If you have ever been in Berlin, you remember the name of its central district, Berlin-Mitte (engl: Berlin-Centre). Alexanderplatz, the television tower and the Humboldt University of Berlin (where I studied) is located there. You get off the train at station Alexanderplatz and walk towards Hackescher Markt. In 10 minutes walking distance, you reach Monbijou Park. The park is bounded by the river Spree. Boats with waving tourists pass by. Right across the river, one finds the Museum Island with, among others, the Bode Museum.

Right at this place, the Beach Bar offers throughout the summer open air balls for Tango Argentino, Swing and various other dances. That’s why I’ve been there!

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Impressions from Romania

Visited places in Romania. full size


Back in Februray 2015, I was overtaken by school holidays: My French collaborators have been well prepared and prepared their vacation ahead of time. I didn’t want to be the lonely guy in the office and decided spontanously to leave as well: to Romania!

Why Romania? I used Kayak Explore to find cheap flights from Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Geneva. Porto would have been an option and surprisingly Bucharest even though its quite far away. Both countries I have never been to. A friend of mine from Bucharest was very enthusiastic about my intentions and rescheduled his week and took care for my accommodation. A week later, I arrived at Bucharest Otopeni Intl. Airport. I decided to take the bus to go down-town Bucharest . In the bus I met a father with his daughter that has worked for the German cruise company AIDA. Both are fluent in English. Also when I missed to get out of the bus, I could ask locals in English without any issues – and not only the young (Erasmus) generation.

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Model EU Highlights

EU Parliament in Strasbourg

I wrote already some posts about my recent experience as a participant in the 2015 edition of the Strasbourg Model European Union simulation. I got attributed the role of an ECR deputy from the UK.

During the conference, I took some notes on things I found remarkable. Altogether, we have been quite creative to make our one-week adventure as out-standing as possible. Sometimes, I thought that we have created an atmosphere close to the reality, sometimes it felt like a parody. I enjoyed both!

If you have been part of the adventure, what was your personal highlight? In the following, I will share mine with you (in no particular order).

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