The ways in which we interact with each other on internet driven social networks is similar than “face to face” interaction, but on the other hand we become more quickly “friends” with people on the social network than in real life.
Personally I do not know a lot of people who are not having some sort of social networking account. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Hyves, YouTube, Netlog or whatever, people get social with the internet as a vehicle.
In the first month of our existance, we noticed that a lot of the news stories were related to security issues with Facebook or Twitter, the two main social networks of today. That fact alone proves that this internet driven social world is a dangerous one.
So checking upon your firends might get you into trouble easier than you think …
So what are the security implications of social networking ?
Social Friends are different from Real Friends
Real friends are people for which you care. People who somehow know you, appreciate you. These are the people you hang out with in a bar, and above all, if they know something about you that you don’t want out in the open, they probably will cover you and keep your little secrets safe … whatever they are.
Social networks rarely make a distinction between your real friends and just people you know. They’re all the same. So if you post something, it can be read by all your friends, including those people you just happen to know and clicked ‘confirm friend’ without thinking twice. And that’s bad news … And that’s bad news …
Identity Theft and Privacy
People are much to loose with the information they are giving out. Do you really need to give out all that really sensitive information?
Do your not so real-life friends really need to know your hobbies, your birthday, your home address ? I don’t think so. Be careful not to give out information which might be abused. Your real friends will remember your birthday, even without Facebook telling them so.
Did you ever wonder about the implications for your professional career if you happen to speak out about what you really think about your boss ? OK, he might not be the greatest person in the world, but if you once clicked confirm friend for him, he or she might think twice in giving you a promotion or worse, might fast track you towards your exit.
Also, photos of you in a more or less drunken state, or some other form of indecent behavior, might be noticed by your boss, your colleagues, or worse … your clients.
So, never type anything online that can come back to bite you. This includes outrageous claims, slander, obscenity and insults. Be cool and professional, and always think twice before typing.
So what are good qualities to have on your social networks ?
Discretion and Professionalism
Discretion is a quality in life which you will learn to cherish once you master it. Being discrete will not get you on the radar of people you care to avoid (like your boss perhaps?). So don’t go out bragging about stuff you did on your social network when you are on sick leave for example.
Scepticism and carefullness
As in real life, do not believe anything you read or see. If encounter somebody on a chat network, that a good looking girl might not be living across the street, but somewhere in Russia or Romania. It even might be a guy. What do you know ? Sometimes a sound dose of sceptisism and carefullness are the way to go on social networks.
It is easy to be rude when the person is not face to face with you. But remember that with being rude or offensive, be rude when the person is not face to face with you. But remember that with being rude or offensive, you might hurt real people. It’s not just the words, but the social damage you can bring upon to them. Your words are seen by all his/hers friends. So don’t. Send a private message, or better, talk about it as adults. Being tactfull and thoughtfull never has hurt anybody.
Read and think before click
If you see why users get infected by all kind of malware, the main reason is: they clicked without thinking or reading what was offered. You remember the “I Love You”-virus ? People got mails saying “I Love You”, and instantly they wanted to know who it was, and what they were saying. Click Click Click … and another computer infected.
The same goes for social networking. If a Facebook application asks you to get permission to your personal data, think twice before clicking it. The repercussions might be more important than the benifits (if any).
You do not give out your pincode of your bank card to a stranger do you? So if you think of a click as real money you give out, you probably would be more carefull when clicking about.
Social networks are dangerous places. But they can be lot of fun too. As always with information security you need to find a balance between your interests and the risks you are willing to take.
Being security aware on your next visit to the social ring might save you from trouble … might save from you some nuisance.