Today, Facebook has become one of the leading social networking sites for people worldwide. Constantly, people are posting new pictures, statuses, and location updates. Yet, an article published just earlier this month highlights the potential harm a simple status on Facebook can have. As Rob Rachwald, security strategy director for the cybersecurity firm, Imperva, notes, “status updates on Facebook posted by friends and family of government officials or the officials’ own unencrypted Facebook activities can be used to gather intelligence such as U.S. troop movements.” Yet, no one considers this before making their quick status update. For example, an Israel Defence Forces operation was cancelled last year after a soldier updated the time and location of the operation. While this may seem naive on the soldier’s part, it raises an important issue. It’s impossible to tract every individual to make sure he or she is not posting potentially harmful information on one of the various social networking sites.
Furthermore, as an Imperva report acknowledges, spies and hackers can use records, such as business connections, that they get a hold of through these various sites, for corporate espionage and government and military information. In fact, they can receive direct access to gmail accounts of federal officials. Yet, as Facebook spokesperson, Fred Wolens, argues, they have designed Facebook as a user friendly site and individuals have the power to monitor who they share their information with. While he argues that many security systems are placed so that cybersecurity issues do not arise, we all know that hackers still find a way. With applications that provide exact geographic locations, it’s evident that such concerns will arise. Furthermore, as the article points out, while login information is secure on Facebook, the information sent back and forth is unprotected and solely dependent on the user.
In the end, it becomes difficult to balance out the pros and cons of sites like Facebook. While many concerns are evident, its important to acknowldge that this same information can be used by U.S. agencies to track spies and criminals and by federal law enforcement officials to find records on criminal suspects for example. To what degree can we monitor this information so that it is secure and not accessible to potential hackers, yet still use the benefits this type of social media provides?
Source: NextGov Article