Investigating a new topic for my next blog I tried to find out more information about social networks and how they work. During my research I found the term social hacking and I wanted to share the information I discovered since we are talking about social networks in our class and we could be affected by social hacking as well.
Social Networks appeared on-line within the last 15 years and rapidly developed over time. Some social networks appeared and disappeared on the internet, but the biggest platforms like Facebook, which was found by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, or MySpace launched in 2003 as well as Twitter in 2006 by Jack Dorsey do still exist and are part of our everyday life. With the enormous increase of memberships there exists a similar growth in social hacking as well. It is a big a concern and that is why even the FBI informs and warns about it on their internet page, which can be found here: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/counterintelligence/internet-social-networking-risks.
So what does social hacking mean?
First of all, social hacking is also known as social engineering, meaning the same thing, the possession and collection of data through deception or trickery, which includes various methods of gaining access to computer systems.
Some of you are for sure familiar with the term phishing, which focuses on the acquisition of passwords and bank account information through the communication of a “trustful” person via e-mail or cell phone, for example. The phishing attacks increased massively since more and more people have access to the internet and electronic communication in general. Most people do not exercise enough caution and trustfully post their information online, on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. In nowadays, our profiles do not get hacked from programmers anymore, they get hacked from social engineers who have a different pattern how to reach your information.
So what do they do?
First, they start to observe your friends list and try to figure out who is in the inner cycle of your social network. Then, they chose one friend with whom you have a lot of mutually friends with. After that, they create a new profile with your friend’s name and same profile picture to send further friends request to other friends of you. Afterwards, explaining that unfortunately your friend has lost his password or your friend’s account got hacked. So now they are ready for the big fish, when the profile looks good enough and the social engineer is ready to send YOU the friend request. As soon as you accept, social hackers are ready to reach your information they need, because know they have the trust of you in your friends, which makes you more likely to send personal information. If you would like to read the steps of a hacker more detailed please follow the link: http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/12/how-to-hack-facebook-the-trick-is-social-engineering.html
The lesson of social hacking is that we should be careful which friends we accept and still should learn to question to whom we send which information.
It would also be interesting to investigate social hacking and how it is spreading through the social networks as well as how it correlates with our social network online, how hackers choices are made and which friends are more likely to get hacked. I would be curious how the graph looks like and which patterns social hackers use.