Recently I received the following two messages in my email, and they certainly got me thinking. Curiously enough, I was at the time actively considering that perhaps the time had come to close my own FaceBook page; for the same reasons as noted in these emails.
Take a look.
I’m just wondering about FaceBook. I’m starting to think it’s very dangerous and I’m thinking about deleting my account. There’s some weird stuff happening on there.
I got this message from FaceBook. I don’t know this person and I don’t have a pic; it’s a question mark.
Jessie sent you a message.
Subject: hey, cool name. i’m Jessie
“hey *****, nice pic. you seem like you’re pretty cool. i’m trying to chat with you, but i dont think you can here on facebook, so could you come over to the other site i go to, http://snipurl.com/1sjqn my username’s spice_gal.”
You’ll notice that in this case, the URL has been modified by using snipurl, a redirection service that turns long URLs into ones that are much shorter. Another URL snipper, tinyurl, is aware their service has been abused in redirecting people to malicious links and now has a section on their site, TinyURL Preview, which will disclose the real URL.
According to the web site Best Security Tips, FaceBook is currently dealing with phishing scam attacks which gather users’ login information and passwords. Best Security Tips goes on to say, users have been tricked into logging onto fake FaceBook links which then captured their personal data.
If you’re a regular reader of this Blog, you are probably aware that just last week I wrote an article about the knowledge level of typical computer users “The Unsecured Internet Super Highway – Are You Licensed to Drive? – Get Up to Speed Here!”
If you haven’t had a chance to read it, here are a couple of snippets from that article:
“Would requiring a license from the “Department of Computer Literacy”, protect us from the ever increasing exposure we all face to Trojans, Spyware, Virus’, Phishing Scams, Identity Theft, ….. the list goes on.”
The article goes on to say:
“Being involved in computer security, I am amazed at the lack of knowledge exhibited by typical computer users, and most importantly, the lack of knowledge concerning the need to secure their machines against the ever increasing risks, previously noted, on the Internet. I’m not talking about unintelligent people here. I am talking about people who are intelligent in every other aspect of life, but who view computers like cavemen who saw fire for the first time.”
Here we come to the crux of the problem. Typical computer users make assumptions that sites like FaceBook and other social networking sites are essentially safe and harmless. That FaceBook, and others, are looking out for their users interests. The old expression, slightly modified, covers it “they simple don’t know what they don’t know.”
John Dvorak, one of the better techno journalists on the Internet, has written an excellent article, It’s Time for Universal Computer Education, on PCMagazine, in which he states “There’s a huge knowledge gap in this country when it comes to computers and technology in general. How many normal people out there know how hackable everything is? You know it. I know it. Does Aunt Tina know it? I doubt it”.
“Get it straight, people: Everything is hackable. Genuine universal computer literacy—for everyone, not just the geeks—should be a top priority in the U.S.”
Given the state of the current, and increasing malware dangers on the Internet, it’s difficult to argue with this view. It’s almost certain that exposures to malware on the Internet will continue to escalate, and with it, the dangers that this presents.
It’s my view that FaceBook has an obligation to ensure its users are protected. If this means that the company has to undertake, as well as implementing other security safeguards, to educate users in the safe and prudent use of its product, then they need to get on with it. FaceBook’s continued success, and its future longevity, lies in a sound foundation and not in its continuing hype.
FaceBook has a window of opportunity, right now, to increase value added to its users, by educating them in the safe and prudent way to utilize the services offered by the company. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time before FaceBook’s lack of security and questionable content policy, will be rejected by the very market they wish to cultivate.
What will happen to its fifteen billon dollar valuation then?