S+F - This is my favourite subject.
I personally have no problem volunteering my information out to certain sites. It allows me to have opportunities and establish a cultural identity
with which I can make friends and enemies.
I do have a problem with who is in control of my data though. God and angels I'm fine with - but sadly they're fictional (IMHO).
When I was back in the UK data blunders (which still haven't been cleared up) cost millions of people their personal private information. Addresses,
next of kin, bank account details, date of birth...pretty much the whole shebang have been 'lost' on trains and trashcans and 'disappeared' from
where they should be. So if this is the data we know about (because it's physical) then what of the data that just just copied and passed along
without any one knowing?
I gave a lecture once on Facebook, it's benefits and potential problems. It was about a year ago. During the lecture I had the class pick a city that
wasn't in our country and asked them to select a male or female candidate. I then hunted down through the publicly available information and found a
single male who had pictures of his house and its equipment, his pet fish, his 'friends', his phone number, favourite football team, date of birth,
email and fact that he was going to a 3 day rock festival 300 miles north of where he was located the following weekend. All of this was projected
onto large display for the group to see. It took about 10 mins.
I put forward the idea that if we were of a criminal nature we could break into his house whilst he was away and steal all of his stuff. I asked the
class how viable that option would be and they agreed it was incredibly realistic. I then put forward the idea that since we know who his mother's
mother is from his status updates we could get some credit cards planned as we know his date of birth, mother's maiden name and address. We could
pick up the cards when we visit his house to break in. Again, it was seen as a viable option should we have a criminal nature. Finally I said, we know
his email address. Who thinks that the password will be his pet fish, football team or some other piece of information that he's volunteered?
I didn't go so far as to break into someone's email (As I'd already shown the class prior that most of their passwords were either their kids or
loved ones names, pets or sports teams) but it left the group with the feeling I was aiming for. To break into a house you have to be there - but
he'd given us all we needed to know on how to do it. To break into someone's entire online life you only need an email and password and you can be
With social media being integrated more and more with third party applications one fault in our security could have all our online identity
compromised and we wouldn't even be aware of it until it was too late.
URL shorteners also cause problems. With Twitter constricting us to 140 characters people use Bit.ly or some equivalent to point people to sites they
think are worthy of note. These mask the target URL and are a ripe market for being exploited in the phishing market. One click from a Twitter posted
link could lead you to a Facebook like page which only has the purpose of stealing your email and password. Chances are that your Facebook password is
the same as your email password which further compromises security.
I think 2010 will be the year of identity theft and compromised security. No longer do scammers have to write complicated coding, they can just use
the tools already available to them to help fabricate their ruse. Check YouTube for a bunch of videos telling you how to do this already - that's how
easy it is that 13 year olds are propagating it.
I agree the long term problems potentially brought by Facebook should be voiced loud and focussed on by government and human rights activists. However
I think a basic literacy on how to use the internet is much more important for the short term as common criminals are much more dangerous in an
I do think Facebook (and Twitter) are government funded operations that have the potential to go awry, but as long as we hold the leash and not the
other way around it can be a useful tool for a great number of things.
Cheers for letting me vent!