Post by Layla Davis
Our uses of social media aren’t so black and white …
The Light Side
We have all made blunders when using the web. Sometimes we share too much information. It can be embarrassing, but for the most part, we write it off as just being silly.
Tongue-in-cheek websites such as Textastrophe.com provide readers with entertaining pieces about individuals sharing their phone numbers and information. The individuals are then trolled via text messaging. The site and its content do not reveal the actual information but it does go to show that there are people willing to spend a great deal of leisure time to, more or less, harass others.
Jack Vale has a funny (yet eye-opening) video skit in which he wanders around talking to people he doesn’t know, mimicking the act of finding strangers social shares and check-ins. The video is entertaining to say the least, but it does make you wonder what this kind of information could do in the wrong hands.
Overall, social media is meant to allow us to express ourselves without having to feel creeped out by others listening to our conversations. We simply need to be aware of our blunders, else our usage of these services could lead toward …
The Gray Side
Doxing is a net term that essentially means using online tools to uncover just about every bit of information about a person that’s available online. The reason doxing is effective is based on the simple understanding that people generally keep the same usernames for many social accounts. They also frequently populate their accounts and never take the time to delete them after they have moved on from the network. This leaves a virtual paper trail.
A fragment of information can lead to a treasure trove of information.
These methods generally include:
· Using emails or user names in combination with reverse lookups
· Reverse image searches using built-in services by Google or from third party websites
· Checking public records or using loose connections (like relatives) to find information
Most of the time doxing leads to shaming. Users often employ the technique when an outsider attacks their community or if they are behind a cause. There have been moments where information revealed has led to actual violence, too.
The Dark Side
Any piece of information stored on a computer/tablet/phone that is connected to the Web is accessible to those knowing and willing to find it.
Hackmageddon.com provides cold, hard data about hacking. Their recent examination of October 2013 reveals the trends, country distribution, motivations, and distribution of hacks. Increasingly, we are seeing attacks on governments and industries. Much of these attacks are done so with the intent to commit a crime or as an act of espionage.
Consider the fact that many politicians, CEOs and news organizations are readily using social media. Attacks on their accounts are frequent, which can lead to private account intrusion and, subsequently, the spread of disinformation.
Software as a service (SaaS) has gained widespread use for small businesses. Businesses using these services connect and exchange information with the cloud. Those with malicious intent have the tools and resources to intercept these transfers on both PCs and Macs. They often focus on attacks to pry loose customer data such as credit cards and mailing addresses. The rise in security concerns for Mac users–who are no longer immune to viruses–are the reason why we have seen a growing demand for internet security software to protect sensitive info on all levels of data transfer, from business to cloud to consumer.
Social media commands a large majority of Internet usage. Many of the major platforms now require an extensive amount of personal information. People, too, are willing to disclose personal matters.
Social media ties us together. It gives businesses an opportunity to connect with consumers and vice versa. It helps spark revolutions. It’s absolutely wonderful, but it’s important to remember that it’s not so black and white.