WITX keynoter speaks on social media security perils
April 9, 2013By Jenny Callison
The keynote address at Tuesday’s Wilmington Information Technology eXchange Conference (WITX) was designed to awaken businesses and individuals to the ease with which hackers can steal online information.
In his talk, Social Media Threats, speaker Jeff Crume, IBM distinguished engineer and IT security architect, outlined the risks of posting information on social media sites.
“If you are not paying for it, you are the product, not the consumer,” he said in his talk, explaining that free access to email programs and social media sites means that the user becomes a source of information that is either legally sold to advertisers or illegally obtained by hackers and originators of spam and phishing schemes. Even popular online games such as Farmville are mechanisms by which the game owner collects information about the players, he said. And a "like" click on a posting by a friend you don't really know can be a disguised plug for a company, which is then displayed on the clicker's news feed.
“Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail and YouTube: information about you is at the core of their business,” Crume said. “Information you put out there may not belong to you any more. And there’s no redress for the problem. ‘Products’ don’t know the phone number of Facebook. Its customers – advertisers – do.”
A Facebook peeve, for example, might just be annoying, but an easy-to-guess password system and indiscriminate friending practices can lead to disaster. Crume detailed how hackers can hijack a person’s entire digital existence from one loose thread of online information. Using the example of an easy-to-guess LinkedIn password, he detailed how a savvy hacker could take over the account, prevent the real owner from gaining access to it, and chip away at the person’s online resources, from family photos to bank and investment accounts.
His suggested solutions ranged from risk analysis and tighter but employee-friendly security measures for companies to stronger and frequently changing passwords for individuals. He also recommended the use of hand-held secondary security devices.
Crume’s talk was part of the 10th WITX conference held at University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Cameron School of Business. A variety of technology-related learning exchanges followed the keynote talk.
Nearly 30 exhibitors and demonstration booths filled the hallways of the CIS building for the event, which continued until 7:30 p.m.