The Marines recently banned soldiers from using social media sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. This is for two reasons. First, because they fear that these sites’ lack of security may allow malware to infiltrate government computers. And second, they’re concerned about the potential for leaked military data. Military personnel are often prohibited from informing friends and family of their locations or missions, regardless of whether they’re communicating with handwritten letters, email, or the telephone. These measures are necessary to prevent leaks that would impede the soldiers’ missions and safety.
Military personnel should be held to a higher standard. We are talking about national security here, and we can’t risk leaks that could jeopardize lives.
Anyone who thinks this is absurd need only look at sporting events for confirmation of why this type of communication should be banned. Every time I watch a baseball or football game, when I see the coaches talking to players, or the pitcher talking to the catcher, they cover their mouths with a hand, glove or paperwork. Why? Because there are thousands of “lip readers” watching the event who are happy to report on what was just said in order to give the opposing team an advantage. You’d think after all these years covering their mouths, lip readers would just give up. But no, that’s not the case at all. There’s always someone watching, waiting, hoping for someone to screw up so they can give the other team an advantage.
Today, social media gives scammers an advantage. Somebody is always watching and waiting for an opportunity. Social media is built on trusting relationships. Scammers can exploit that trust to gather information that could be used in password attacks. If you ever forget your password and have to reset it, the answers to several of the security questions might already be available in your profile. And in many cases, the default privacy settings leave profiles open to anyone.
Security professionals were able to create a virus called ZombieSmiles, which gains control of the victim’s browser and allows the hacker to access supposedly private data through the Facebook API, including friends, groups, wall postings and applications. Facebook applications allow a third party to access your data, which opens a Pandora’s box of possibilities for hackers. So if you send me a Facebook application and I refuse, it isn’t because I’m being rude, it’s because I think that the potential risks simply outweigh the benefits. No offense. I just don’t want my identity stolen.
Penn Masala presents The Facebook Skit, a parody of Enrique Iglesias’ song Hero.
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Penn Masala is the world’s first and premier South Asian a cappella group, formed in 1996 at the University of Pennsylvania.