Government 2.0 Club is an informal organization focused on convening the tribe of technologists and thinkers focused on applying social technologies to the governments worldwide.
Does social networking cause us to drop our guard around security?
July 6, 2009 at 8:32 pm #75295
In a very interesting article dated 5 Jul 09 it indicated that the new MI6 Chief’s family was putting to much information on Facebook which might compromise his job. Check out: http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-1197562/MI6-chief-blows-cover-wifes-Facebook-account-reveals-family-holidays-showbiz-friends-links-David-Irving.html# In the article it stated “Amazingly, she had put virtually no privacy protection on her account, making it visible to any of the site’s 200million users who chose to be in the open-access ‘London’ network – regardless of where in the world they actually were.” I have had many conversations with my children and family about what they put on sites like facebook, myspace, and other social networking sites. I often find it a challenge to make them understand that the information is copied and could be out there for life and that they and others they talk about may be judged based on that information. I have talk to them about their security when putting to much information out there with the sex offenders and other people looking to use information on the internet for criminal activity. The http://www. can stand for the wild wild west and should be treated as such.
As we become more open and looking to be connected to an audience that is not face to face we also seems to be less inhibited. In a room full of people from many countries and all walks of life I doubt that Sir John Sawers’s wife would have shown the pictures on her facebook account or talked about most of those topics. So why in a place that is open to the world would you do it? Because one does not see the threat one may not perceive it. This lack of inhibitions can effect judgment in regard to security and can put people at risk as pointed out in the article. There are great gains that can be made through the use of community sharing sites within the government. There are training programs for government employees to teach them what is OK to talk about and what is not. Even though it could be argued that even much of the “OK” information once pieced together can be used to get other information that is not OK. As a government; as we become more transparent; how do we keep things secret or confidential that do not need to be in the open in this new information sharing age? For example if one knows the technology used, the configuration of that technology, and the policies and procedures around that technology someone with bad intentions has a good place to start to plan their attack. There are many published documents on what technology standards the government should us, how to lock it down, and procedures that should be used for example to create a public facing website. This shared information is critical to keeping systems locked down and for different agencies to not have to re-invent the wheel so to speak. On the battle field a general will want to know the lay of the land, how many troops are out there, where they are located, what technology they are using, and what might be their battle strategy. Once they have this information they use it to build their battle strategy. The same is true with good hackers trying to break into systems. As more and more people are encouraged to be open the government will have less control over what information will be out there. This quagmire of information sharing and security must be in the front of all our minds as we share information on community sites both government and privet.
From the article the message that our families and even friends can put information out there that could be damaging to us or others is scary at best. If judgement by all is not used when making posts on public sites those posts can create a big problem. How does the government help provide training not just for the employee but also to the families of government employees on how to use these sites? How do we monitor this vast cyberspace without imposing on peoples right to privacy? The new government policies around open information sharing will help the government in many ways. There are many pit falls to this as well that may become apparent over time. Policies and procedures will have to be move at the light speed to keep up with these changes in technology and communication.
July 6, 2009 at 10:20 pm #75297
That is a great article, Edward. It really makes you think about what you are putting out there yourself. My first thought was, how could Lady Shelley be that careless? But, then, you start thinking about it and it is very easy to get wrapped up in Facebook and Twitter and the rest of the social sites.
It also reminded me of Israel Hyman from Mesa, AZ who was robbed after tweeting about his whole vacation from preparing to go throughout the vacation. He believes that someone who saw the tweets robbed him while they were gone. Again, I thought, why would you do that – post messages about your vacation? But, then I thought about it. When I go out of town for work I tweet about the plane, the airport, anything interesting in the trip, etc. My house isn’t left empty, but no one reading the tweets knows that. If you go to search.twitter.com and search for “on vacation”, there are hundreds of people who post messages about actually being gone or going on vacation. Are they naïve or should they not be concerned?
Article about Mesa couple: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090614/LIFE…
While it is true we need some method for educating employees on the traps and potential pitfalls of exposing themselves on the internet, we have to be careful that policies do not infringe their rights to free speech and expression. Obviously, we have control over what they do while they are “on the clock”; however the information they provide via social media outlets may often impact the employer even though it is provided on their own time. So, what rights do employers have to control this? Programs like the one China has proposed with the Green Dam-Youth Escort, take protection to the extreme and turn it into censorship. Thankfully, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has been convinced of this at present and has abandoned this project for now.
I think our best defense is educatin and some good old common sense.
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