Facebook, Twitter provide sensitive info for criminals

Users share too much information and often vent on social networking services

Social networking services like Facebook and Twitter foster a false sense of security and lead users to share information which can be used by cybercriminals and social engineers. The very concept of social networking is based on connecting and sharing, but with who?

A recent study found that many users simply accept requests to connect even if they do not know the person they are connecting with. The actual numbers found that 13% of Facebook users and a whopping 92% of Twitter users simply connect with anyone who asks.

Users share too much information and often vent on social networking services. Little tidbits of information about being out on vacation, or complaints about the new desktop operating system, or announcing an upcoming business trip to meet with a foreign competitor all offer tiny sparks of information which can be combined with other sparks to form a light that exposes more than should be shared.

There is a similar debate in the security community regarding out-of-office auto replies from email programs. Automatically sending an email to anyone that emails you including why you're not available, how long you will be gone, and the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of other users to contact in your absence is more information than should be shared outside of the company. Newer versions of products like Exchange and Outlook actually allow users to create separate out-of-office replies for internal and external emails to address the problem of sharing too much information with outsiders.

Its virtually impossible to prevent all such disclosures of information. The reason is that these tidbits are generally useless and innocuous alone. By themselves they appear to be harmless, verging on nonsensical, and most of them are. But, each tidbit reveals some small piece of a larger puzzle and an industrious criminal can dedicate the time and resources to gluing the innocuous, nonsensical pieces together to reveal a larger secret.

Organizations should be aware of the pros and cons of social networking and should have established policies regarding the acceptable use of company resources in connection with social networking. It is also a good idea to provide some awareness training about the security issues of social networking and educate users to be more careful of whom they connect with and the information they share.

Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitytwittersocial networking

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?