Online social networks: security issues

November 4, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Kim photoThe European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) has just launched its first position paper on Security Issues and Recommendations for Online Social Networks. The report makes for very interesting reading. Whilst acknowledging the benefits of social networks, ENISA identifies 15 threats and makes 19 recommendations around making social networking sites (SNS) a safer space.

Four types of threats are discussed: privacy related threats; variants of traditional network and information security threats; identity related threats; and social threats. Here’s a taste of some of the main threats identified:

  • digital dossiers: the network never forgets – personal data and profiles on online SNS can be downloaded and stored by third parties creating digital dossiers that could get into the hands of blackmailers and spammers.
  • facial recognition: user-provided digital images are a popular component of SNS profiles. The photograph is a binary identifier for the user enabling linking to apparently anonymous profiles, especially when combined with uncontrolled tagging.
  • CBIR: Content-Based-Image-Retrieval is an emerging technology that can match identifying aspects of a room eg a vase or painting, in very large databases, increasing the possibilities of locating users.
  • reputation damage through ID theft: fake profiles created in order to slander people or profit from their reputation.
  • cyberbullying: SNS offer a range of tools which can lead to cyberbullying such as harassment, humiliation or secret sharing.

You can get the report here (scroll to bottom of screen and download the pdf).


Entry filed under: Privacy, Surveillance society, Useful resources.

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