May 29th, 2009
(Part 3) The Darker of Social Media: Malicious Intent
Just how much are you giving away through social media?
Most of you know by now how beneficial social media can be in reaching your audience or listening to the conversation about your brand. You probably also know how much time it can take to do it right. Or how much time your employees will waste once they get sucked into Facebook and Twitter. Nevertheless, what most of us don’t realize is that there are critical security and privacy concerns that go along with the open, personal nature of social networking.
Finally, the most serious of consequences of the open nature of social media is when the first two problems (trust and authenticity, see our previous blogs) are combined with actual malicious intent. You can control your own information flow and you can be diligent in your efforts to establish explicit trust with people in your network, but social media applications are vulnerable to malware that security companies do not even fully comprehend yet. For example, Facebook has been hit time and again by malicious Facebook applications that run within the system to spam your friend and spread like viruses. Facebook applications also require you to allow access to private data in your profile, potentially giving away sensitive info to malicious people. Twitter has had it’s own share of worms – usually under the guise of helping you build followers – that hijack an identity and post messages under your identity.
In social media spheres where you are trying to build a brand and control your message, don’t take risks. Don’t install Facebook applications – even for ‘good causes’ or ‘games’ unless you trust the source of the application, not the invitation, 100%, and don’t friend someone you don’t know or a site with which you are unfamiliar. It’s easy for someone to create forged or confusingly similar profiles on Twitter or Friendster or other sites where they have the opportunity to damage your brand or steal your customers.
As with any security issue, you must stay on the social media offensive to ensure that it’s you that is controlling your message and that the trust in your social media is explicit.