Information Technology in a Global Society

ITGS textbook cover Information Technology in a Global Society for the IB Diploma is the first textbook designed specifically for the IB ITGS course. Unlike the general computer science textbooks currently used by many ITGS teachers, this book is written specifically with the IB ITGS course requirements in mind, and covers all components of the new ITGS syllabus (first exams May 2012), including the Higher Level (HL) topics. It is fully illustrated with over 300 photographs, diagrams, and charts.

The book is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and a variety of book shops.

This site supports the book with additional lesson plans, exercises, links to useful software, and other ITGS teaching resources. You can also view a detailed table of contents and download a free sample chapter.


Latest updates

Passwords and biometrics

Passwords, biometrics, and two-factor authentication

The video Secure Passwords Explained by CommonCraft is a good introduction to this topic. Why passwords have never been weaker - and crackers have never been stronger and How I Became a Password Cracker (ARS Technica) explain the security threats facing passwords.

Two-Step Verification is inconvenient, but more secure (NY Times) and Google's Alternative to the Password (MIT) offer alternatives to passwords.

Biometrics (BBC) are often hailed as a better authentication mechanism, and modern systems can even recognise users by the way they walk (Science Daily).

Problems with biometrics

Contrary to popular belief, biometrics systems can be fooled. For example, by using fake silicone fingers (BBC) and even plastic fingerprint surgery (BBC). Voice recogition technology can also be fooled: the BBC fooled HSBC's voice recognition security system for online banking, for example.

Social and ethical issues

Biometric facial recognition systems can raise privacy issues as they are capable of surveillance without subjects' knowledge or permission - one such example is in the 2001 Super Bowl (The Register). The article You Cannot Encrypt your Face examines this issue in greater detail.

Another potential issue with biometrics is security - ironically there are several major security concerns about using such technology. This Wired article explains the concerns and how they affect stakeholders in various fields.


Updated: 2017-08-10
Password strength

Exercise 5.4 - Password Strength

Computer security company Kaspersky has an online tool that performs calculations like the ones in this exercise. How Secure is my password? is a similar tool.

For security reasons it might be better to avoid typing your actual passwords into these sites, just in case (in fact the Kaspersky website warns specifically against this).


Updated: 2017-08-10
Self driving cars

Driverless cars and ethics

Driverless or self-driving vehicles are often promoted as being safer than human drivers. However, there may be situations in which an accident is unavoidable. In these situations, how should a driverless vehicle be programmed to behave? Which course of action should it take if all have negative outcomes? And, of course, who takes responsibility for any damage that is caused?

This is a topic which links to ITGS and TOK. The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars (video) is a good introduction. Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill and Ethics of Self-Driving Cars are great articles that examine the topic in more detail.


Updated: 2017-07-12
Facebook logo

Policies: Policing social media

Policing a global web service such as Facebook or Twitter is clearly a difficult task, and there are many social impacts and ethical issues to consider. Most obviously, different countries, regions, and users have wildly different standards regarding what is acceptable and unacceptable. Content also spreads extremely quickly online, while new situations constantly arise, requiring companies to make quick policy decisions. Below are examples of situations where material has been removed (and sometimes reinstated) by social media sites. These issues are also a great opportunity to link ITGS and TOK, with many knowledge issues surrounding censorship and filtering.

In May 2017 a Facebook document was leaked which revealed their internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence. Finally, ITGS students might be surprised to learn who makes the decisions about removing content - The dark side of Facebook explains this.


Updated: 2017-07-12
Crime prediction

Police use of IT: Risk profiling and crime prediction

Since 2001 governments and airports have invested huge sums of money in systems to detect potential terrorist threats. Software which analyses passengers' data to establish their 'risk score' is explained in Risk profiling software tackles the terrorist threat (BBC), while Airport Screening Concerns Civil Liberties Groups (NY Times) discusses the inherent concerns about profiling and privacy. Finally, Deception Is Futile When Big Brother's Lie Detector Turns Its Eyes on You (Wired) details software that can - relatively accurately - detect liars at border control points.

A similar technological development is 'predictive policing': the use of software and large amounts of data to make predictions about where crimes might occur - and even who might commit them - before they happen. The following articles and videos cover this topic:
Updated: 2017-07-12
Image manipulation

Dove Evolution and the Digital Manipulation of Models

Digital manipulation of models is a commonly discussed example. In 2006 Unilever launched its Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, designed to highlight natural beauty. The advertisement (video) shows the transformation of a model using both make-up and digital computer manipulation. It makes an interesting lesson starter when teaching digital manipulation of models. Can you believe your eyes in the digital world? is a BBC article and video that deals specifically with the digital manipulation of models' images and the possible impacts. A mascara advert featuring Natalie Portman was banned after it was realised images had been manipulated in Photoshop.

On the same topic, in 2009 French MPs proposed a law that would require 'health warnings' on any advertising images that had been digitally manipulated. The proposal makes for good discussion material for ITGS students.

Finally, this fun link shows celebrities 'Photoshopped' to look like ordinary people.

Digital image manipulation relates closely to the IB Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course.
Updated: 2017-07-12
Data security

Data security and privacy - legal impacts

The Data Protection Act (DPA) proscribes legal penalties for companies who fail to adequately protect personal data on their systems. Equally, it is an offence for users to access data for uses other than the original intended use. It is harder to find examples of these penalties being given, but there are examples:


Updated: 2017-07-04
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