6 thoughts on “Social network security – an oxymoron?

  1. Another consideration is the way that sites like Facebook are becoming critical infrastructure, whether they like it or not.

    The Internet marketplace is mostly robust: if your internet access breaks, you get a new ISP. If your email breaks, you open a new account with someone else. If Google Search goes phut, you switch to Bing. Some hardship along the way, but it’s generally not the end of the world.

    But a massively centralised network like Facebook is very hard to replace if it disappears (as it did the other day). And we’ve come to realise that the tag ‘not for critical applications’ very quickly falls by the wayside… witness the electronic components marked ‘not for life support’, which indeed do support life in numerous ways, GSM phones used in emergency situations, or doctors using GMail for contact with their patients. Many of those were once provided on an ‘if it breaks, tough’ basis. But now breakage has more serious consequences.

    While Facebook might currently just be used for sending out party invites, it won’t be long before it becomes relied upon in much more important roles.

  2. Ross,

    One significant problem with the Internet and economics is no distance cost metric for any given service.

    So as every where is “local” and the cost is effectivly “zero” to get there you get the secondary effect that the leading edge is not the bleading edge but the winning edge. First to market takes the market unless they drop the ball.

    This is unlike even traditional monopolies with tangable goods which are only monopolistic in a given area because of the distance cost metric makes it possible for a competitor using exactly the same business model to exist in another region.

    One way to stop the issues with the likes of Facebook is to work out how to reintroduce an unavoidable distance cost metric.

    Doing this also has other security benifits because it can limit the “force multiplier” effect of malware because it’s cost of movment becomes very visable. The downside of course is a non negligable distance cost metric will kill of many other business models such as FOSS etc.

    Further one significant downside of a monoculture is that as it does not have to interreact with other like systems thus it becomes fragile (no hybrid vigour). This has been known for a long time but appears lost on the latest age of programmer.

    None of this bodes well for the robustness of the likes of Facebook and although you think common sense would say don’t use such a service beyond it’s own confines, people appear to neglect this for the sake of conveniance or lack of thought or not being sufficiently informed.

    Thus the infrustructure steadily sinks to the lowest level almost irrevocably.

    Or as we used to say when Maggie was in power “bound for hell in a hand bag”.

  3. If facebook et al continue to grow as they are, computing will eventually destroy itself! In turn, computer bits are notoriously difficult to recycle; meaning that more and more minerals, metals, plastics, ceramics will need to be mined. The main recycled parts will be the steel cases. That said, I wondered that if metals are continuously recycled, what happens to the structure of the metal that is recycled? Does it become (presumably) weaker, then unfit for purpose? I digress. Like the poster above (and the article) states, FB will become critical to everything, requiring more and more resources (particularly electricity and the other stuff I’ve mentioned above). This then links into your other research questions (Who controls the off switch? which immediately springs to mind, the other being posted on here “Grid Attacks”). Mark Zuckerberg’s baby will need more nursing (i.e money, but that won’t be a problem). The rest of the Internet is full of Skynet (Terminator Film series) stories, but the same applies to the Internet as a whole; where will it all end? I am reminded of the 1983 film War Games, where the computer takes more and more power, taking NORAD out as it did so, then it tried to start a nuclear war. Food for thought, if nothing else.

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