14 July 2009

Bond did it first...

In the 007 film "Tomorrow Never Dies", James Bond has a social encounter with yet another millionaire megalomaniac with aspirations of world domination. The villian later sits down with his henchman, a computer hacker, and they try to discern what they can about James Bond's (or his alias') past. As they run the background check, they find that Bond's false identity (I think a stockbroker) has never gotten a speeding ticket, has never been late to work, and has never been in any sort of trouble whatsoever.

In short, the hacker concludes, he's a government agent masquerading as a stockbroker.

The people at Haft of the Spear wrote something along those lines today, noting the distinct electronic electronic tail that our social networking sites give us.

[quoting an article in Computer Weekly] National security advisors are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit people who do not have an online trail, according to Rob Cotton, chief executive of NCC Group.

Anyone with a Facebook account automatically has images in the public domain and is associated with a variety of organisations and other people, making it difficult to keep a low profile, he said.

"Having a Facebook profile, you are opening up a Pandora's box of online traceability that you can't ever truly close, which extends to close associates too," said Cotton.

[Haft of the Spear chimes in] Your name is Alice and you're a "student" on extended holiday in some 2nd world garden spot and the local service looks you up on Facebook and finds . . . nothing. Myspace . . . nothing. LinkedIn . . . nothing. Twitter . . . nothing. Guess what they're thinking? "WTF kind of 20-something doesn't have a social networking trail a mile long?" Guess how long before Alice gets rolled up and PNG'ed? If anything, backstopping someone online is faster, cheaper and easier than doing it in meat-space, but then that would require someone who makes such decisions to know that the IBM Selectric isn't the preferred technology of the day.

The impact of social networking sites on background security checks is one which has been in the news considerably in the past week, with Britain's future head of MI6 drawing considerable fire for having pictures of himself on Facebook.

Focus question: Work and Facebook...do they mix?

No comments: