Monday, June 1, 2009

Exploring the dark side of social networks


By Joe Dolittle

I wanted to bring you up to date on a project David Gewirtz, our illustrious editor-in-chief, has been working on in partnership with FrontLine Security Magazine: The Dark Side of Social Networking.

According to David, when it comes to social networking, it's not what you know, or even who you know, it's who knows you. And that's pretty much where the trouble starts.

David did an interview on this subject with Fox News earlier in the week. You can watch it here:

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Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn are the increasingly popular community services that are designed to help people stay in touch. According to Nielsen Company research, more than two-thirds of the world's Internet population visit social networking sites at least once a month, and nearly 10% of all time spent online is devoted to social networking.

With growth this fast, a reach this large, and a community of relatively undisciplined users, social networks are attracting scammers and criminals. The bulk of social networkers are between the ages of 18 and 49 -- prime employment years, and ages where a mistake today could haunt them for many years into the future.

David's 1,086 word Special Report explores the following issues:

  • Employment: how social networking can lead to career suicide
  • Reputation: how something you say now could haunt you for years into the future.
  • Malware, phishing and identity scams: how using services like Facebook and Twitter without caution could cause you serious financial loss
  • Physical security and stalking: how social networks give stalkers and other scary people an almost minute-by-minute update on your habits and haunts

David asks, will a log of Twitter or Facebook postings provide future &quot;palling around with terrorists&quot; albatrosses for candidates in 2012 and beyond?

As for physical risk, he says, &quot;The potential for horror is enormous. If a criminal can easily find out where you are, what stores you frequent, what your daily habits are, who your friends are, and even what your personal food, entertainment, and beverage preferences are, you can be targeted with a level of ease never before possible.&quot;

According to David, &quot;I worry that there is a deep and dangerous dark side to social networks and I worry about the potential victims.&quot;

And, if all this social networking stuff is getting you down, you can always read David's latest CNN article, Detroit, Pimp My Ride. He mentions Kielbasa.