Social Networking Site: Opportunities and Security Challenges

Social Networking Site: Opportunities and Security Challenges

Tom S. Chan (Southern New Hampshire University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-132-2.ch015
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Social networking has become one of the most popular applications on the Internet since the burst of the dot-com bubble. Apart from being a haven for teenagers and online marketers, social networking sites are increasingly adopted by the corporate community. The trend makes viable many new business models and applications. The popularity of these sites has altered the way society interacts, but it also greatly heightened the threats of cyber crime. Safety and crime issues aside, the massive amount of user-generated content in these Web 2.0-enabled social networking sites are becoming fertile grounds for viruses. Furthermore, these sites pose great challenges on how to protect copyrighted works as they are havens for digital content sharing. Society must learn to balance the benefits of social networking with its drawbacks as the phenomenon is an inescapable global trend, expanding at the speed of light.
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A social networking site is a category of websites with user profiles and persistent public commentary forming a traversable networked virtual community. A user profile contains identifiable information about the participant, such as, age, gender, interests and etc. The profiles have unique URLs that can be visited directly. Site visitors can also post comments or other information for everyone to see. Network participants have the ability to list other profiles as “friends”, link to friend’s profiles, and see comments posted by others. The comments are semi-permanent because they may disappear over a period of time or upon removal. All of the above functions generate a virtual network for social interaction where each node contains a link to the profile of the other person so that individuals can traverse the network through friends of friends.

Social networking sites bring people together in a virtual community to talk, gossip, exchange ideas, share interests and making new friends. The sites typically provide tools for posting messages, sharing photos and creating personal pages. The Internet is made of people, and people are social by nature. Embraced mostly by teenagers and young adults who find it irresistible,, a social networking site, launched only four years ago is now one of the world’s most popular. In U.S., it ranks second only to Yahoo in page views, drawing almost 5% of all site visits, ahead of even Google, which drew only a little over 4%. According to a recent web metrics report (Tatham, 2006), one in every twenty U.S. Internet visits went to one of the top twenty social network sites in September 2006.

The popularity of social networking has altered the way society interacts, but it also greatly heightened the threats of cyber crime. Safety issues aside, the massive amount of user-generated contents in the Web 2.0 enabled sites are becoming fertile grounds for viruses. Furthermore, these sites pose great challenges on how to protect copyrighted material as they are now havens for digital content sharing. Society must learn to balance the benefits of social networking with its drawbacks as the phenomenon is an inescapable global trend, expanding at the speed of light. 

Social Network Theory and Social Network Analysis

“Social network”, a term coined by J.A. Barnes (1954), represents a web of relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, animals, computers or other information processing entities. Social network theory differs from traditional sociological studies. In traditional theories, attributes of individual actors are assumed to matter the most. Social network theory takes a different approach, where individual attributes are less important than their relationships and ties with others within the network. Social network theory in Social Sciences began with the urbanization studies of the Manchester School (Barth, 2005). Started as an attempt to quantify social relationships, social network theory has been helpful in explaining many real life phenomena, from the success of individual business to the rise of political powers, and from the process of how juries reach consensus to the decision that countries pattern their trade.

Social network theory, deeply rooted in Sociology, has recently found a home in many business applications. Social network analysis helps us to understand the dynamic of informal networks. Social network analysis theory views social relationships in terms of nodes and ties. Nodes are individuals within the networks, ties are the relationships between the individual, and a social network is a map of all of the relevant ties between the nodes being studied (Scott, 1991). The International Network for Social network Analysis,, is an academic association of social network analysts. New visualization tools are constantly being developed and many are available online for scholars to study the patterns of complex social interaction using graphical images of network models. A social networking service is a website specifically focused on providing and supporting online social networks for whatever purpose. As of April 2006, social networking sites claim an estimate of 68.8 million unduplicated unique participants, reaching 45% of active web users (Nielsen, 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Community: An online or virtual community is the gathering of people, in an online virtual space where they come, communicate, connect, and get to know each other better over time.

Social Network: Social networks are a way to describe systems as composed of multiple elements. Each element, or node, may or may not have a relationship with the other nodes. The most common social network is a node of people and relation between them.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): Cross-site scripting is a type of computer security vulnerability typically found in web applications which allow code injection by malicious web users into the web pages viewed by other users.

V-Chip Technology: V-chip is a technology that blocks objectionable television for younger viewers. The V-Chip reads information encoded in the rated program and blocks programs from the set based upon the rating selected by the parent.

Web 2.0: Web 2.0 is based on the idea of the Web as a platform. Instead of thinking of the Web as a place where browsers viewed data through small windows on the readers’ screens, the Web was actually the platform that allowed people to do things.

Digital Rights Management (DRM): Digital Rights Management is anti-piracy technology that allows digital copyright owners to control who and how gets to access and copy their work.

Social Network Analysis: Social Network Analysis is the techniques used to study social networks. While traditionally sociologists focus on the individual elements in their study, social network analysis emphasizes more on relations between individuals.

Instant Messaging: Instant messaging is the ability to exchange messages in real time with others over the Internet. Typically, it requires one to be connected to the Internet and with access to instant messaging software.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
John Walp
Manish Gupta, Raj Sharman
Chapter 1
C. Warren Axelrod
This chapter examines the impact of catastrophes on information security and suggests who might have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate... Sample PDF
Responsibilities and Liabilities with Respect to Catastrophes
Chapter 2
David Porter
This chapter discusses the latest developments in the shifting threat landscape and their impact on the world of information security. It describes... Sample PDF
The Complex New World of Information Security
Chapter 3
Ahmed Awad E. Ahmed
In recent years, many studies have highlighted the unprecedented growth in security threats from multiple and varied sources faced by corporate, as... Sample PDF
Employee Surveillance Based on Free Text Detection of Keystroke Dynamics
Chapter 4
Arunabha Mukhopadhyay, Samir Chatterjee, Debashis Saha, Ambuj Mahanti, Samir K. Sadhukhan
An online business organization spends millions of dollars on firewalls, anti-virus, intrusion detection systems, digital signature, and encryption... Sample PDF
E-Risk Insurance Product Design: A Copula Based Bayesian Belief Network Model
Chapter 5
Guoling Lao
E-commerce mode aggravates information asymmetry so that honesty-credit problems become more serious. This chapter discusses the honesty-credit... Sample PDF
E-Commerce Security and Honesty-Credit
Chapter 6
Zhixiong Zhang, Xinwen Zhang, Ravi Sandhu
This chapter addresses the problem that traditional role-base access control (RBAC) models do not scale up well for modeling security policies... Sample PDF
Towards a Scalable Role and Organization Based Access Control Model with Decentralized Security Administration
Chapter 7
Chandan Mazumdar
There has been an unprecedented thrust in employing Computers and Communication technologies in all walks of life. The systems enabled by... Sample PDF
Enterprise Information System Security: A Life-Cycle Approach
Chapter 8
Peter O. Orondo
Most companies would agree that securing their information assets is worth some investment. It is thus plausible to assume that low levels of IT... Sample PDF
An Alternative Model of Information Security Investment
Chapter 9
George O.M. Yee
The growth of the Internet is increasing the deployment of e-services in such areas as e-commerce, e-learning, and e-health. In parallel, the... Sample PDF
Avoiding Pitfalls in Policy-Based Privacy Management
Chapter 10
Supriya Singh
Enabling customers to influence the way they are represented in the bank’s databases, is one of the major personalization, responsiveness, and... Sample PDF
Privacy and Banking in Australia
Chapter 11
Madhusudhanan Chandrasekaran, Shambhu Upadhyaya
Phishing scams pose a serious threat to end-users and commercial institutions alike. E-mail continues to be the favorite vehicle to perpetrate such... Sample PDF
A Multistage Framework to Defend Against Phishing Attacks
Chapter 12
Ghita Kouadri Mostefaoui, Patrick Brézillon
In recent years, the security research community has been very active in proposing different techniques and algorithms to face the proliferating... Sample PDF
A New Approach to Reducing Social Engineering Impact
Chapter 13
Yang Wang
Privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), which constitute a wide array of technical means for protecting users’ privacy, have gained considerable... Sample PDF
Privacy-Enhancing Technologies
Chapter 14
Douglas P. Twitchell
This chapter introduces and defines social engineering, a recognized threat to the security of information systems. It also introduces a taxonomy... Sample PDF
Social Engineering and its Countermeasures
Chapter 15
Tom S. Chan
Social networking has become one of the most popular applications on the Internet since the burst of the dot-com bubble. Apart from being a haven... Sample PDF
Social Networking Site: Opportunities and Security Challenges
Chapter 16
James W. Ragucci, Stefan A. Robila
Fraudulent e-mails, known as phishing attacks, have brought chaos across the digital world causing billions of dollars of damage. These attacks are... Sample PDF
Designing Antiphishing Education
Chapter 17
Serkan Ada
This chapter discusses the recent theories used in information security research studies. The chapter initially introduces the importance of the... Sample PDF
Theories Used in Information Security Research: Survey and Agenda
Chapter 18
Samuel Liles
Information assurance education is an interdisciplinary endeavor that only when taken as a holistic and inclusive educational activity can be... Sample PDF
Information Assurance and Security Curriculum Meeting the SIGITE Guidelines
Chapter 19
Gary Hinson
This chapter highlights the broad range of factors that are relevant to the design of information security awareness programs, primarily by... Sample PDF
Information Security Awareness
Chapter 20
Nick Pullman, Kevin Streff
Security training and awareness is often overlooked or not given sufficient focus in many organizations despite being a critical component of a... Sample PDF
Creating a Security Education, Training, and Awareness Program
Chapter 21
E. Kritzinger, S.H von Solms
This chapter introduces information security within the educational environments that utilize electronic resources. The education environment... Sample PDF
Information Security Within an E-Learning Environment
Chapter 22
Donald Murphy, Manish Gupta, H.R. Rao
We present five emerging areas in information security that are poised to bring the radical benefits to the information security practice and... Sample PDF
Research Notes on Emerging Areas of Conflict in Security
Chapter 23
C. Orhan Orgun
This chapter develops a linguistically robust encryption system, LunabeL, which converts a message into syntactically and semantically innocuous... Sample PDF
The Human Attack in Linguistic Steganography
Chapter 24
Sérgio Tenreiro de Magalhães, Kenneth Revett, Henrique M.D. Santos, Leonel Duarte dos Santos, André Oliveira, César Ariza
The traditional approach to security has been the use of passwords. They provide the system with a barrier to access what was quite safe in the... Sample PDF
Using Technology to Overcome the Password's Contradiction
Chapter 25
Antonio Cerone
Reducing the likelihood of human error in the use of interactive systems is increasingly important. Human errors could not only hinder the correct... Sample PDF
Formal Analysis of Security in Interactive Systems
Chapter 26
Tejaswini Herath
It is estimated that over 1 billion people now have access to the Internet. This unprecedented access and use of Internet by individuals around the... Sample PDF
Internet Crime: How Vulnerable Are You? Do Gender, Social Influence and Education play a Role in Vulnerability?
Chapter 27
Jarrod Trevathan
Shill bidding is where spurious bids are introduced into an auction to drive up the final price for the seller, thereby defrauding legitimate... Sample PDF
Detecting Shill Bidding in Online English Auctions
Chapter 28
Carsten Röcker, Carsten Magerkurth, Steve Hinske
In this chapter we present a novel concept for personalized privacy support on large public displays. In the first step, two formative evaluations... Sample PDF
Information Security at Large Public Displays
Chapter 29
Yuko Murayama, Carl Hauser, Natsuko Hikage, Basabi Chakraborty
The sense of security, identified with the Japanese term, Anshin, is identified as an important contributor to emotional trust. This viewpoint... Sample PDF
The Sense of Security and Trust
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