Could Facebook Present a Cybersecurity Nightmare for You?

Social media continues to connect the world in new ways. But as these high-tech communication methods continue to evolve, some experts worry about the downside of online contact, including cybersecurity. One such expert spoke about the issue at the May 4 Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems (DODIIS) conference in Detroit.

Matthew McCormack, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s chief of cybersecurity, told conference attendees that the rise of social media site usage, including Facebook, creates challenges for businesses and individuals who need to protect networks and sensitive data. In a Government Computer News article covering the conference, writer Henry Kenyon detailed McCormack’s concerns, including a startling statistic: In 2008 and 2009, cyberattacks cost companies and organizations more than $1 trillion in intellectual property.

Other interesting stats presented by McCormack:

  • Individuals in the U.S. spend about 63.5 billion minutes per month on social networks compared to 26.1 billion minutes for online games and 19.9 billion minutes for e-mail.
  • As of January 2010, average daily use for Facebook was 14 minutes per person, he said.
  • Facebook garners 500 million users globally, 48% of whom access it with a smartphone, thereby bypassing traditional network security infrastructures.

“As thieves focus on social media, it presents new security risks for organizations because employees will either try to access sites from the office or they will bring personal wireless devices with a similar capability into the network,” Kenyon wrote in his article. “McCormack said that 30 percent of attacks on social media sites seek out personal data, another 13 percent cause monetary loss and 10 percent successfully install malware on a computer.”

And while McCormack pointed out that about 50% of U.S. employers ban employees from accessing social media sites at work, banning these sites is not a “complete” option because generation Yers expect the same level of technology at work as they have at home.

“The mindset needs to change from securing the perimeter — keeping the bad guys out — to securing the data,” he said in the article.

For more information about the impact of Facebook and other social media sites on cybersecurity, read the full article: