RealNews

Defenses lacking at social network sites

Services like LiveJournal and Tribe are poised to be the next big thing on the Web in 2004, but their security and privacy practices are more like 1997. Brad Fitzpatrick is president of LiveJournal.com, a social discovery Web site where over 1.5 million users post diary entries they want to share with friends. Although members post extremely sensitive information in their journals — everything from their plans to commit suicide or sabotage their boss to their latest sexual adventures — Fitzpatrick admits that security on his site isn’t a priority. On the initial login page, LiveJournal members send their passwords in the clear. “We’re hoping to change that in the next month,” Fitzpatrick said. “But site performance is our highest priority, and SSL is a pain.” Jack (not his real name) is an LJ user whose account was compromised. He isn’t sure how it happened, but one day he logged in and discovered a huge portion of his journal entries had been deleted. The attacker didn’t stop there — she or he also plundered his friends’ “locked” entries (visible only to other friends) and reposted extremely private exchanges as public entries in Jack’s journal. Although he quickly changed his password and fixed the problem, the damage was done. “My friends were really upset and the bad feelings persist,” he said. One friend feared that she might lose her job when a private entry about problems with her supervisor was made public on Jack’s journal. “It’s still cached on Google,” he explained, “although it would probably be hard for most people to find unless they knew all the details.” Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

OODA is comprised of a unique team of international experts capable of providing advanced intelligence and analysis, strategy and planning support, risk and threat management, training, decision support, crisis response, and security services to global corporations and governments.