The Dark Side of the Social Web
INF 103: Computer Literacy
September 30, 2012
Social media is becoming intrinsic to our everyday life. We have all heard the oft-quoted statistic that if Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest with twice the population of The United States of America. As with any segment of society, social media has a light side and a dark side. Although I believe that the good that has come from social media outweighs the bad, I am not so naïve to believe that we do not need to protect ourselves from the dark side. Users of social media must beware of malware and fraud, they must protect their children from hate groups and cyber bulling, we all must be wary of cyber stalkers, nation states are fighting a war on cyber terrorism, and the proliferation of pornography is raising new questions about exploitation and relationships.
With the openness of social networking sites, the huge number of people using them, and the implied trust, they have become a launching point for malware. Malware is a shortened term for malicious software. It is also a very loosely defined term. The Free Online Dictionary of Computing defines malware as “Any software designed to do something that the user would not wish it to do, hasn’t asked it to do, and often has no knowledge of until it’s too late.”
Malware comes in various sizes, shapes, and purposes. The table below, taken from the book Seven Deadliest Social Network Attacks (Timm, 2010, table 2-1), provides a brief description of common malware categories. What must be remembered is that any software that has a malicious intent is considered malware.
Category | Definition |
Crimeware | Any computer program or set of programs designed expressly to facilitate illegal activity online. |
Spyware | Software installed on computers that collect information about users without their knowledge. |
Adware | Software package that automatically...