Cool as McCumber

Anti-social networking

The security problems inherent in social networking have more to do with the interconnected system we build that others may wish to exploit. We establish digital relationships and create a community of trust; however, that trust - the cornerstone of security - is what leaves us vulnerable. External actors may endeavor to either exfiltrate data we feel we are sharing only with trusted parties. They can take this information and use it for their gain. Others may choose to infiltrate that network and exploit the implied trust we have among family and friends.

Like digital con artists seeking to use our own trust relationships, these human threats seek to use our social networks for their gain. They may choose to work surreptitiously through hidden programs, or they may seek to hide behind a false identity.

We must be on the alert and use both technology - as it is available - and a keen awareness of the risks of social networking. As a minimum, we should each send a scammer a dozen lost baby calves to tend. That might slow them down.

John McCumber is a security and risk professional, and is the author of "Assessing and Managing Security Risk in IT Systems: A Structured Methodology," from Auerbach Publications. If you have a comment or question for him, please e-mail John at: