Sharing Information, Beware!

Social networking sites are easy means of netting gullible browsers

Sajjad Bazaz
Publish Date: Dec 11 2012 12:00PM

How fraudsters penetrate into the computer system? In this context, we are mostly familiar with a concept typically paired with a sense of invasion from a distant and unknown source. Precisely we know it as computer hacking.
But there’s something else which carries dangerous dimensions. The fraudsters instead of working hard to crack a computer system, try to manipulate  the victim into divulging sensitive information, like password, personal credit card information etc. This kind of manipulation known as social engineering introduces an element of proximity, or at least direct contact. In social engineering nearly all fraudsters bank on exploiting trust and curiosity of the browser and steal his credentials which are enough to even bankrupt him. And these human hackers have assumed significance as social engineers.
Social engineering is not at all complex. For example, a person wants to break into your computer system. First he might try to gain your confidence for being an authorized user. Then he will get you to reveal information that compromises your network security. It has been found that these social engineers often rely on the natural helpfulness of people as well as on their weaknesses.
One of the most common aspects of social engineering is people's inability to keep up with a culture that relies heavily on information technology. We come across a section of people who are not aware of the value of the information they possess. So they are careless about protecting it. It’s here the social engineers take advantage of the situation and make them to pass on vital information
With the advent of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc. these social engineers have gone on prowl to net the gullible browsers. Basically the social networking platforms over a period of time have become a space of strangers where they exchange information to each other without knowing each other. Most interesting part is that things, like family photographs which are basically meant for home archive and restricted to own family members are shared on the space to a huge network of strangers. Remember it’s here social engineers mingle with this group of strangers and look out for their victims. So in this cyber space we find photos which really have no place outside the home.
So, the question arises – what has a person achieved while being on Facebook or Twitter? He has just opened a window for others to peep into his personal affairs, as he gladly puts all personal information on the site. You invite people to intrude into your privacy. Even as it may be against your will, you are forced to accept it unpleasantly. So this kind of engagement is nothing but social engineering.
Precisely, I would say that social networking is simply social engineering. It triggers change of values and transforms ethics in the most benign form. Social engineering consumes a browser, invades your thoughts and consequently manipulates your action. The beauty of this socialising is that all this is engineered without making you to realize it.
To conclude, let’s understand that in the world of Internet we are all at risk and at the same time we are also a risk to others. At least we can protect ourselves from others. For this at our own end we need to have a better understanding of what the social engineering threats are and how to be vigilant. It’s a must for the people with little technology knowledge to learn the basics and always seek advice from experts while encountering a social engineering attack.

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