Monday, April 26, 2010

About My Project

Social Networking Sites: Threat to Online Privacy and Security

My Presentation evaluates Social Networking Sites (SNS) as a threat to Online Security and Privacy.

Both privacy and security breaches are often intertwined with Social Networking Sites, especially since anyone who breaches a site's security network opens the door to easy access to information belonging to any user.

According to Susan Barnes of the First Journal, "In the United States, we live in a paradoxical world of privacy. Users of SNS reveal intimate thoughts and behaviors online while on the other hand, government agencies and marketers are collecting personal data about us."

Online, the information you post form your identity. Personal data has become a commodity. Once your information is added to the SNS database and users post user content on these pages, you automatically grant the company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferrable, worldwide license to use, copy, publicly display, excerpt and distribute such for any purpose.

Privacy Issues:

  • User content are distributed to a worldwide audience
  • Defaults settings are set to increase social awareness (by defaulting the public and allowing users to make profiles private)
  • These companies record all interactions and retain them for potential use in social data mining and passed to third parties
  • Vast repositories of immensely personal data, thus becoming a goldmine of information for marketing companies
  • Corporate Espionage
  • Cyberbullying, Stalking and threat of sexual predators

Security Issues:

  • Vulnerabilities in applications/widgets
  • data theft e.g. malicious applications attempt to steal information from Facebook profiles
  • Viruses e.g. Samy worm virus
  • Cyberscams - cybercriminals increasingly using PDF and Flash files as vehicles for distributing malicious code and for infecting end-user PCs
  • Phishing and Spams Bogus emails and malicious apps
  • Identity theft

Why SNS are targets of Hackers

  • A hacker’s motive: “Hit all Once”
  • Because SnS have such large user-bases. If you can infect the [social networking] website you can get to a whole lot of users.
  • Hackers find it easy to disseminate viruses or steal identities from SnS


  • Remember that the internet is a public resource. Limit the amount of personal information you post.
  • Evaluate your settings. Modify privacy settings to restrict who can access/see your profile information and post on your profile
  • Do not disclose too much information, especially your personal sensitive information e.g. phone number, address
  • Manage the information you post on your profile. Do not post inappropriate messages where everyone can see.
  • Keep track of the type of photos you upload.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Use and maintain anti-virus software.
  • Be wary of strangers who add you online and be skeptical.
  • Be careful with third party applications/widgets.

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