Theft Identification and Social Networking
The study of the processes of communication, in general, is a branch of sociological theory. However, the theories of mass communication have become applicable as well under the influence of information technology. Mass communication is a process of transferring and exchanging information through technical means to large and dispersed audiences. All means of mass communication met the challenges of authoritarian regimes at first. Then, the mass media have evolved into a socially responsible and free communication means. The United Nations recognizes the inalienable human right to the free access to it and the Internet, in particular. However, this free use entails risks from external factors. Since the application of personal data is inherent in the computer-mediated communication, it may lead to retrieving personal information by cyber criminals. The aspects of use and protection of personal data of social networks’ users have been on the agenda of the international community for more than a decade.
Communication Safety in Social Networks
The Internet has the following socio-psychological functions of mass media: social orientation and identification, contact with people, and self-assertion. Its deep penetration into the modern society enables people to unite and fill the interactive communications networks. Such social networking in the form of websites allows the communication arriving without any delay, exchange of information and views, and receiving new data faster than through newspapers and television. The communication process is represented as a series of separate transactions. A transaction is a communication unit consisting of stimulus and response. A person that provides a stimulus (for example, asking a question) is called an agent within the framework of transaction. The individual that reacts to it (in the form of response) is called respondent. The system of transactions exchange on the Internet is realized in the form of various types of social networking. Social media are not determined by the technology though they have been created but the way they are used. They are designed so that the more people use them, the fuller they become.
However, social networks have a problem of information’s quality, reliability, and credibility. The reason is that it appears much faster than it can be thoroughly checked and filtered. For example, Facebook users communicate via messages, status updates, photos, videos, and sharing files. Since the transmission and storage of information is done using the third party equipment, there is a doubt concerning the privacy of communications. The cost and time for storage and transfer of such information is extremely small. Its simplicity is a determining factor of technological attractiveness of the transaction.
One of the main features of social networking is placing of the users’ personal data. It allows other participants to obtain information about facts, events, and circumstances of life of an individual and identificate the personality. It has been initially intended to find users’ interlocutors, basing on common interests or some unique options. In addition, commercial companies, which are present in social networks, carry out targeted advertising aimed at people of certain gender, age, location, interests, etc. Thus, the already posted personal information and the one that appears related to it complement each other.
Social networks allow to share, compare, and merge separate databases, including personal data. This fact can lead to unpredictable consequences. One of the most striking examples is a steal of personal information and card numbers of 400 thousand of Israeli citizens. It turns out that the individual data posted at the user’s will can be dangerous. The reason is that it is a target for attacks to steal such confidential information.
The problem can be partially solved via the methods of information security, though few people use it. The solution can either be strict control at users or custom applications designed to analyze the data of all social networks’ participants that the person communicates with. Moreover, social networks provide a means of settings to set the level of privacy, for example, restrict access to the placed information (photos, personal data, etc.) and determine the quality of communication with other users. However, these tools allow configuring only basic parameters, but not the actions of other members of network in relation to the individual.
Software Security Solutions in Social Networks
Such social networks as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and others have a built-in solution for setting the level of data confidentiality. It helps to set the level of openness to communication. However, if all the conditions necessary for the publication of text, links, media files or other data are satisfied, the service does not guarantee that the published information will not be harmful. The implementation of such a solution is possible on the basis of software development kit (SDK) provided by the developer of the social web. There are some service checks’ specified sections on user demand or occasionally, which then notify of the result (whether there is malware, phishing links, spam or not). An example of such an application is a Symantec’s free service Norton Safe Web or BitDefender’s product SafeGo.
The advantages of such applications are an easiness of installation and no need for any configuration. Such software enclosures have the appropriate access rights to the data and can produce their primary processing, following an algorithm that meets the needs of users. However, these simple applications have disadvantages as well. For example, the user is not safe from unwanted messages and links, if the check is not made. Text cannot be edited so that, for example, cutі the unwanted links or keywords from it. Finally, such a service is highly dependent on the capabilities of the social network’s SDK. Thus, there is a need for some other solutions for ensuring users’ data security.
The control of placed information in the real-time as well as the analysis of the already placed data should be carried out by social networks. It has to be implemented via auxiliary service or application being independent of the device used to visit a web resource. Such a service can be divided into two mutually complementary parts.
The first section deals with information protection and control (links, text messages, multimedia files, etc.) in the real time. The service primarily processes the data based on their predefined rules or settings specified by a user. In addition, there is a need for the secondary processing of the incoming flow of data for identifying and further processing messages and, for example, the removal of keywords (profanity, foreign words, and so on).
Another part deals with the protection of data already placed in the profile. It could help users to set the level of their confidentiality. The owners of social networks are interested in placing an increasing number of user data. However, openness may be excessive. Therefore, the service should determine what data are public and how to process them properly.
The next problem arises. If all the steps for the analysis of information in the social web environment occur on the side of application, then it must be voluntarily added and configured on the user’s page to begin to carry out the assigned tasks. It is realizable, but there is a risk that a customer, for example, will disable the software enclosure for a while. Unfortunately, there are no means of independent user control by other individuals in the social network. They will appear only on the condition that users will be able to share certain rights of access on their pages. However, none of social networks does provide such a possibility.
It should also be noted that the implementation of the described application is costly both financially and technologically. Firstly, a heuristic analyzer, which will help users in their tasks of content filtering, should be established. Secondly, not every popular social network can provide the API to implement the plans in full. Consequently, there is a problem of close communication of social networks with software companies which are ready to work with their content.
The interest of the owners of social networks to this issue is not clear now. However, it may appear in the case of a major leak of users’ personal data and their further use by cyber criminals for profit. On the contrary, software companies have long been thinking about the complex forms of integration into the social web for the implementation of their paid services of intellectual content filtering. The implementation of such a mechanism in social networks can effectively improve the security of user data. The company-developer will attract new users who are ready to protect their personal information online.
Various aspects of use and protection of personal data in social networks bother not only the users but also the experts in the field of information security. Joint development and implementation of the rules and principles of work with personal data in social webs will help protect users from cybercriminals. Thus, they could become even more attractive to users who are concerned with preserving their data in secret from other participants in social companies and nets.