Modern social media and information transmission problems

By Nir Orr


Today social media has become the playground of nearly every person in the world. I deliberately did not say “modern world” because we have long passed the industrial age, and computer systems today are an integral part of our lives, when even the “simple” farmer has the ability to point to its location in the heart of a field plowing or grazing sheep.

Today, in the advanced mobile era, the era of  Facebook, of Google, no more privacy, and automated tools exist behind these technologies, killing any chance for any internet privacy. The danger is that too much free personal information is “out there” without supervision and oversight, without the consent and even the awareness of the people to whom the information is about.
Internet statistics usage speak for themselves about the level of integration of the Internet in our lives: 300 million people use Google a day (only the search engine itself), as recorded over a billion unique hits per month. Facebook has nearly a billion users (over 750 million) in the world.


The level of information sharing on social networks is divided across the following statistics:


Growth of social networks databases

The growth of human databases and information is exponentially in recent years as well. More and more people are sharing more and more information, and these databases only growing and growing:


These statistics reflect that if a user is on one network, chances are that he will be found on another network as well. Making use of triangulation and detection by using the Internet is becoming easier and easier, since most users are working with one generic email, same photo or similar for all accounts, user name is identical or similar, and one generic password for different sites and their email.

When you see these statistics, one can only thinking about the scope of personal information shared through the Internet and social networks, and its exploitation methods for different purposes. But here’s the catch – everyone always concerned about personal information falling into the hands of hackers, but almost no one thinks that the social network that he is using, takes advantage of the innocence for third party – to gain profit by advertising or contracts a third party for content and services, knowingly undermines privacy of many users to materialize these profits.

Am I alone?

No. We are not alone. Almost all agencies are aware of our existence online from our birth into the world of the Internet, watch us and know us too. And it’s true. Google declare it openly.

Internet companies perform a full reflection of their traffic to the law authorities, the use of listening devices is common (routers, POPs, email servers, communications traffic), so if the process was carried out illegally like downloading songs or movies, minors porn search, downloading cracked software, hacking attempts, etc. These processes are detected almost immediately and the responsible will be seized according to definitions of the law in his home country.

Meantime – everything is saved for a period of time and the information is collected is categorized and aggregated. Those who want to know where surfing the net two days ago – con do that because Google keeps (with our full consent) all browsing history “for statistics.” also third party software such as XMARKS, which allows saving passwords and shortcuts to the Web browser, keeps these details on the Web server of the company, so that the user can sync them back to the personal computer when requires and helps with ease of work. These servers are not private … They belong to someone else which now has access to your bank details, web addresses, all your passwords, and of course – where were you and what have you done …

Of course – why anyone would use it? Who cares? Why me? Well – why not?  Ultimately, if we’re talking about leaks – most leaks come from disgruntled employee, who was fired yesterday, or successful hacker break into a website for fun or for financial or political reasons. In short – once it’s there – you are exposed.
But as mentioned before – not only disgruntled hackers are use your information, but the social networking and online services providers themselves!

Today, 22 of the 30 most popular mobile applications related to social networks have no Privacy Policy, and some of these mobile applications upload to the company’s servers to which they belong to – the private telephone and contacts list of the innocent users.

In the mall, trying on some clothes …

An application that to my opinion is less pleasant in the internet world is to identify the user’s location using GPS, with different applications like google+ and facebook indicate the location of the post without user control. This creates a kind of duplication of the idea of ​​privacy. On one hand – you were on a nice trip and wanted to share the experience, and on the other – all the world now knows you were there, and if it was in the middle of the week, for example, when you are supposed to lie in bed with a fever on leave from work – it does not look good … But who told you to cheat your boss?

Today, most digital cameras on the market can not automatically tag the location of the photos taken by them, but smart phones, including GPS,  automatically tag video material or stills. Sometimes you can disable this function in the devices themselves and you can always censor the information immediately after upload if aware of it, but by that time – the information has been uploaded to the Internet and saved in a backup somewhere, so even if the image does not actually exist in the open, there is a backup in a non-confidential location or database that can be find in one way or another.

Another danger, which seems to be controllable, is publishing the location of the user by uploading photos to social networks like Flickr, Facebook or Twitter. Web Searchers like Flickr for example (network specializing in advertising images) of any expression brings up dozens of different and varied results, some of which you may not have ever thought someone would see besides your friends or when you raise them but yourselves.

Information in recent years became so available, it became viral without intention. British police had to send forces to secure the home of the girl intended to invite her friends for a birthday party and soon received approval attending a party of more than 20,000 people.

What about data security of social networks? Sites and tools related to social networks were not necessarily built out of view of information security. Social networking applications make extensive use of Web2 type. Analysis done at the end of 2008 by Websense, one of the known data security companies in the world, shows that of out of the ten most common types of online attacks, attacks that originate from web2 applications are ranked fourth. Therefore, their use may expose the organization, its employees and customers to risks such as viruses, Trojans, phishing and computer intrusion.

The writer is a senior information security consultant Comsec Consulting.