Cyber Stranger Danger

April 4, 2013

Homeland & Cyber Security, Robotics & High-Tech

Do you really know all of your Facebook friends? What if one of them was planning to use the details you share for sinister purposes?

“People today expose almost everything about themselves and their friends in online social networks,” says Michael Fire, a Ph.D. candidate in BGU’s Department of Information Systems Engineering.

“By exposing their private information, the users put themselves in danger in both the virtual and real world,” says Fire.

In October 2012, Facebook announced in a report that an estimated 8.7 percent of its one billion users are fake, and about 1.5 percent—a whopping 15 million accounts—are malicious users.

To help Facebook users protect themselves, Michael Fire and a team of BGU student researchers have developed a Facebook app called the Social Privacy Protector (SPP).

SPP uses a multi-level approach for identifying threats. First, it identifies “friends” who may not be who they claim, based on their lack of connection to the Facebook user’s other friends.

Then it restricts potentially fake Facebook friends from access to the user’s personal information. What’s more, SPP alerts users about the number of installed applications on their profile that may have access to personal information.

This app can also help parents adjust their children’s profiles in one click, prevent criminals from garnering valuable personal information and keep teens safe from pedophiles.

“Parents can better protect their kids’ privacy with just one click instead of having to navigate the more complicated Facebook privacy settings,” says Fire.

Read more by Rachel Nuwer, writer for The Connectivist >>