Is Social Network, a forbidden fruit?

Rishi Narang
 /  privacy  /
Is Social Network, a forbidden fruit?

It’s the kind of evening that anyone would expect me to be sitting in office for a snacks time conversation. But today due to some power problems, we called the day off pretty early. I was feeling a little restless, so came out and walked into a Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) to have an Expresso. On the table next to me, there is a group of teens discussing about Facebook, Orkut etc. How fast is this culture of Social Networking spreading among the students and the professionals! No wonder the sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, MySpace are generating millions of dollars from our time! What they need from us is a registration, a 1/2 an hour or more of daily login, some online clicks and some chit chat. And in return they get money money and loads of money from the amount of time we enjoy social networking.

In conferences and seminars some questions usually get the limelight due to the fact that they are related with ‘common people’ or ‘mass’ generation:

  • Is Social Networking safe?
  • Any thoughts on the security related with Social Networking?
  • What should be done, and shouldn’t be?
  • Pros and Cons of Social Networking?
  • Any advise to young social networkers?

I agree, social networking is essential in this era where technology is weaving cultures and countries together! I am a part of this world as it provides a very good medium to connect, learn and share knowledge! But then how much to share and how much to expose yourself, is a personal choice. And, then there is something termed as ‘being stupid’. There has been continuous headlines of some or the other being a victim to social networking pranks. It can be firing of an employee from a company coz he is too active, or evictions or convictions on the objectionable posts & even impersonating as “someone” (may be for ‘fun’). DO NOT FORGET that at the core of these technologies, or social networking concept lies the Human Common Sense Factor. Technologies and Tools always evolve and multiply, but human being a thinking species should decide how to use them without getting into trouble! There is a quote which is very much related to social networking concept:

Communicate like the whole world is watching because some day, that may very well be the case.

It’s always good to have friends, social circles but make sure you know people or have some common friends, before accepting the requests. There has been many cases on obscene content – text or images, being shared or dealing with the “wrong guy”, frauds etc. Register for the sites, but do not provide so much contents that you become an open book to Social Engineering or a case study for a guideline document. Always be attentive while visiting links from your friends. The links may look benign but can be malicious! Always backup your system configurations, set restore points, keep backup copies separately etc. so whenever you feel like your system has gone nuts, turn it off and restore from previous working state.

One thing that I always give a stress on – “Try to limit your curiosity and carelessness in defined boundaries. Be responsible but act responsible too.” Any link can install malicious files, malware or own your system if you do not have security measures and practices in place: Anti Virus + Firewall + Common Sense. Irony is some websites are themselves not aware that they have been hijacked or injected with malicious code and are serving them. I never comment on which vendor has the best protection, but surely you have best sense to protect your own interests! In past years, social networking has become the easiest target to allure mass victims and persuade them to click and spread malicious content. A user should maintain a gap between being friendly and exposing privacy. Avoid all financial discussions or backups on social networking sites (no matter in Private Mode too).

There are a million baits hanging on such sites, try not to be deceived by them, or grasping a low hanging fruit. It may be ‘the forbidden fruit’ of the social garden.

Some more points that I would like to share:

  • If your company or IT team has blocked a site, don’t be curious enough and try to bypass it or any blocked site. It looks nice to boast of it, but trust me will not be worth the effort and you may have to pay huge price.
  • Remember to read the Terms and Conditions of the Third Party Web Applications at Social Networking sites before allowing them access to your profile.. They may be using all your ‘private’ information to market their Applications. These apps or games may look nice and tempting or addictive but be smart, and restrict your privacy!
  • With the vendors, check if they have verified the application to be used. You can always contact the vendor and query about the ‘trust & verification’ factor of any application. And, whether or not it’s been tested in possible environments and will not leak your information.

So, all in all Social Networking has many a pros but the con part comes only from the human carelessness or stupidity which is the hardest to patch! So, be safe for someone thinks you are a trustworthy friend, and may click anything that you will forward.

Cheers & it’s time to go home