Security's Everyman

Security's Everyman

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yeah! MySpace

MySpace has been a Security Professionals, Privacy Rights Advocate and Parents nightmare from the beginning. Between the security vulnerabilities, privacy concerns, ease of ruining or tarnishing your reputation and ability for predators and others to harass you there has not been a lot of good to come from MySpace. Of course all of this is my opinion. There those who love MySpace and don't think the issues associated with it are any greater than any other social networking site including business related sites such as Linkedin or ITToolbox. In fact some say that all web sites present equal potential to do harm to you or your computer.

Even though I'm not a big fan of MySpace I have to give them credit for working towards making things more secure and safe for their users. They are working with the Attorney Generals from 49 States and the District of Columbia to come up with a plan that hopefully will be adopted by most other social networking sites. NetworkWorld has a write up on it here. You can read the article and also find the original document to read.

Some of the things that they are doing are:

  • All profiles of users under 16 years old are automatically set to private
  • No one over 18 can view the profile of anyone under 18 (w/o jumping through hoops)
  • No one under 14 can have a MySpace profile
  • Create a database or email addresses that can't have a profile (parents can add their kids to this database)
  • Monitor and remove inappropriate material uploaded
  • Break links to porn sites and other inappropriate sites.
These are all good and well to help make things safer and hopefully guard privacy of our kids. Unfortunately most of these can be easily gotten around.
  • To keep my profile from being set to private automatically I just lie about my age
  • To be able to view and contact those under 16 I just create a profile of someone under 16
  • If I'm 12 I just lie about my age so I can have a profile
  • If my email address is blocked I create a new email address
So, as good as it seems most of this is just fluff designed to make us think that MySpace and other sites are safe for us and our kids. It will encourage deception and create a false sense of security for kids and parents. This will lead to less monitoring by parents and more risky behavior by kids.

Like it or not parental monitoring of sites such as MySpace is the only way to ensure that your kids are safe and not doing things that they shouldn't be doing and to lessen the possibility of them communicating with those they don't need to communicate with.

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