Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, December 14, 2021

Just as the quaintly-named “social diseases” spread from person to person through that most intimate form of trust, the new breed of Facebook- and Twitter-borne online malware gets around quickly thanks to a social network’s perceived safety:

Getting tangled up in a virus on a social network is also more painfully, and instantaneously, public. “Once it’s delivered to everyone in three seconds, the cat is out of the bag,” said Chet Wisniewski of Sophos, a Web security firm. “When people got viruses on their computers, or fell for scams at home, they were generally the only ones that knew about it and they cleaned it up themselves. It wasn’t broadcast to the whole world.”

Social networks have become prime targets of such programs’ creators for good reason, security experts say. People implicitly trust the messages they receive from friends, and are inclined to overlook the fact that, say, their cousin from Ohio is extremely unlikely to have caught them on a hidden webcam.

That is the heart of it. People seem to crave the opportunity to let their guard down inside the walled garden of a members-only site, without really acknowledging that those walls are easily penetrable. It’s the same impulse that’s led to the now-familiar parade of incriminating photos and status updates — people should know better, but they somehow don’t. In that environment, the pickings are easy for spammers, hackers, and the like.

I’ll add that some of the tools promoted by socnets contribute to the hazardous online terrain. Chief among those are the spread of URL shorteners, which offer a stupid-simple masking delivery system for evil links. Again, within the context of trustworthiness, it’s a sure way to snag victims who opt to click before thinking.

All of this just reinforces my conviction against drinking the social Web Kool-Aid (my Twittering notwithstanding). The old “trust but verify” advice might seem paranoid, but it’ll keep you from getting burned.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/14/2009 10:52 PM
Category: Social Media Online, True Crime
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Last night’s faux-insightful exchange:

Fellow Traveler: …I need an enema.

Me: Thanks for sharing that.

Fellow Traveler: No man, I mean, like, a soul enema.

Me: Again, thanks for sharing.

Good thing I was soused on my second Kill Divil, or else I don’t think I could have handled this.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/14/2009 08:17 AM
Category: Comedy
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