Researcher Proves Your Friend Isn’t Your Friend

I’ve said numerous times that there’s too much trust in the Facebook world. People have entirely dropped their sense of cynicism when logged on. Apparently, they see no reason to distrust. Generally, your “friends” are people who you “know, like and trust.” In this world, your guard is as down as it will ever be. You can be in the safety of your own home or office, hanging with people from all over the world, in big cities and little towns, and never feel that you have to watch your back.

Computerworld reports, “Hundreds of people in the information security, military and intelligence fields recently found themselves with egg on their faces after sharing personal information with a fictitious Navy cyberthreat analyst named ‘Robin Sage,’ whose profile on prominent social networking sites was created by a security researcher to illustrate the risks of social networking.”

Apparently, one of the easiest ways to gain acceptance as a trusted colleague is to be an attractive woman. I recently wrote about “Sandra Appiah,” a curvy lady who sent me a friend request. She had already friended two of my buddies, who accepted because they already had two friends in common. She had posted questionable photos of herself. Red flag? But my buds didn’t seem to see it the way I did.

The security researcher set up profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. “Then he established connections with some 300 men and women from the U.S. military, intelligence agencies, information security companies and government contractors.”

Steve Stasiukonis, another ethical hacker, took it to the next level. He used a similar technique and, with permission, infiltrated a company’s network to test their security. By creating a group on Facebook, he was able to access employees’ profiles.

He set up his own employee persona with a fake company badge, business cards, a shirt embroidered with the company logo, and a laptop. “Upon entering the building, he was immediately greeted by reception. Then displayed fake credentials and immediately began ranting about the perils of his journey and how important it was for him to get a place to check his email and use a restroom. Within in seconds, he was provided a place to sit, connection to the Internet, and a 24×7 card access key to the building.”

Social media can and is being used as a smokescreen. The idea behind social media is that we are social creatures that thrive in community and want to connect. The problem is that this ideal is based on the mindset that we are all sheep and there are no wolves.

When mama told you to not talk to strangers, there was wisdom in that advice. When you friend people who you don’t know, you are friending a stranger and going against moms advice.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, discusses hackers hacking social media on Fox Boston. (Disclosures)

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