Wednesday, September 9, 2009

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Social Security and Networking

A recent case of a woman who's password was hacked and her account cracked, meant she had to shut her Facebook account down as the hackers then harvested pity from her close friends and actually extracted $1000 via Western Union from one of them within 24 hours. She found the "report" link on Facebook and after 12 hours, Facebook closed her hacked account.

The first line of defense is your password. Quite often it is your only line of defense, and that should NOT be the case in a public networking environment where identity is important.

There has to be a better way. Online password safes (repositories) are asking you to trust them to never make a mistake. There has to be a better way. There is. It is the Law.

Identification of an individual is a human right. Long have civil libertarians fought for universal anonymity, but in the digital age more individual freedom may be had from universal identification. Not so much by Government. But by anyone.

How do you know your Facebook postings are not being hacked? You do not. You trust Facebook to have thought it through. Governments have been thinking laws through for centuries and still people will find loopholes. It follows that software, especially things used by millions, are going to have security holes.

It is easy to blame Facebook rather than the victim. But in this instance, it was one person vs unknown criminals and all she had to go on was being unable to login to Facebook, followed probably a phone call from a friend or finding her page had been changed from her friends login, still connected to her.

It may be that Facebook are seen as guilty of a significant oversight here. One could wonder, why is there no heuristic testing of identity? Why was it so hard for her complaint to the police to not immediately ring alarm bells at Facebook - a business?

Security takes vision, it must be thought out for the application. It could be that they are so busy being successful they become too focused to realize what safeguards they may need to wrap around new features like plug ins (which must follow certain sandbox rules, certainly, but that does not stop them being implicated in data theft). The value of social networking is limiting marketing costs.

The cost of social networking is: enormous distraction. Do the staff at Facebook get enormously distracted? If so, is this the real problem with this fractionation? As the rivers of human attention fractionate into many tiny streams we seem unable to keep commercial reality afloat. President Obama's warning to teenagers "be careful of what you post on Facebook, it may come back to haunt you" in response to one who wanted his job was appropriate advice.

If anyone has, President Obama has proven the social business model works for politics has it been adopted universally due to it being so successful. But it is just one path to success. Back in the day, businesses paid people for their work. We now seem so keen to promote our works on a social network for the attention, never mind the moola. It will change.

But at the moment it is a bit of a case of the Emperor's new clothes.