I don’t have a facebook.  I don’t have a twitter.  My gmail accounts that I created use fake names (often crude nick names) and fake birth dates.  I have the technical know how to use them and recognize they are ability to greatly enhance your standings in practical social networks.  I actually have hindered my ability to interact with old friends from places like the military.  So, why have I not joined the massive influx of people moving to these sites?


I was raised in the early days of computing.  Ever since I jumped on my first dial up connection, my parents told me to never give out my name, address, or any other personal information ever.  This has made the social media boom mystifying.  People that never had reason to interact with the web before are getting on and spamming grave amounts of person data directly into the personal domain.  Every new analysis I read or watch on security indicates this amount of data amounts nothing more than a candy shop for hackers.  One such example is just about any speech from DEFCON:



For those not familiar with DEFCON, it is a convention for hackers.  Many of the speeches show how the speakers have hacked and intercepted data for anything from social network sites to cars. This particular speech is about actual documented vulnerabilities from the API of MySpace.  The speakers start with just overriding javascript to lock people out of the account.  They end with how easy it was to build apps through MySpace’s sharing tools to implant malicious code on a user’s computer.  From there you could do anything from create a bot net to data mining.  Videos like this showed how the rapid method of networking allowed by these sites turned everyone into a target.


Hackers are not the only people after your information.  As John Foreman states, “Why are so many private organizations jumping on the big data bandwagon?  For most, they want your personal data so that they might better sell things to you.”  These companies see you as just as much of a target as the hackers, and they don’t even have to work for your information.  You hand it over to them on a silver platter for access to their site. He also draws attention to how the NSA is building a database that, “the U.S. government can use your data to detain, silence, and prosecute you.”  The NSA essentially has an unwarranted wiretap on the larger “pipes” of the internet. They also have some of the most advanced decryption methods that are always evolving.  With just a few policy changes, the way NSA’s model for handling your data would equate to that of “Big Brother.”


In summation, everyone wants your data.  We all want to find easier ways to keep up with our friends, but is this ease of communication worth giving away your security?  Every time I consider starting up a profile I weigh these risks to the reward.  So far I have not found joining social media rewarding enough to lose my identity.