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Saturday, 6 March 2010

Security Risks and Social Networks

MySpace, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, used by millions yet the risks are not fully understood or appreciated.  Apart from the obvious threats from Trojans, viruses, stolen passwords and other malware, there is also the human risk of hurried messaging which has resulted in embarrassment and security threats to organisations.  The big problem with social networks and email to the same extent is that once sent, the message or information is 'in the wild' and could, if the experts are to be believed, stay on the internet in one form or another indefinitely.  How many of us had wished that they could recall an email one sent?

There are many people who believe that these social sites are secure.  If you are foolish enough to publish details of your address, interests and other personal information you are providing sufficient data to allow your identity to be stolen or misused.

Unfortunately, the information you post today, about a subject you  hold dear, may very well haunt you in years to come.  A future employer may 'Google' your name and all that information could be recovered.  This might be the difference between getting that job or being rejected.

Many companies are barring employees from using these networking sites as it has been shown that some company sensitive bits of information end up being discussed on these sites.  During the last war the enemy used to gather information by listening in to casual conversations in pubs and sporting venues.  A little bit here and a little bit there soon added up to a considerable amount of data once collated. 

The same applies to company blogs and instant messaging systems of all types, indeed a Microsoft employee apparently let slip that the new 2010 office package would be available in March.  This was swiftly denied by an official spokesman, but the damage has been done.

I always advise my clients that the internet is about as secure as writing the same information  on a piece of paper and fixing it to a public notice board in the middle of a busy town.  In short it is not secure at all, unless some elaborate encryption is used. 

One final word on social network sites, if you must use them, please, PLEASE do not use the same passwords that you use on secure sites such as bank, shopping or business networks and think once and think once again before pressing  SEND.

Enough said?

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