The wife of Sir John Sawers (the future head of MI6) had posted personal family information on Facebook.
“I am concerned,” said Nigel Trevena, IT Security Advisor at Software Paradise.
MI6 employees are bound by rigorous privacy rules, so the fact that these were broken is a worry in itself. Add to that the fact that this ‘incident’ occurred soon after Brown gave the go-ahead for setting up a UK Cyber Security Operations Centre, and it is no surprise that security professionals are once again rolling their eyes.
Tory Ken Clarke said that he doubts Britain’s enemies rely on Facebook for information (BBC News Online). Facebook might not be the first point of call when terrorists are doing their research, but using personal information can be an effective bargaining tool. Not only is the name and face of the future head of MI6 in the public domain, we have also seen the family album and know where they live. Protecting them has got to be a harder task as a result of the Facebook post.
I suggest you ask yourself these 10 questions before you decide to start broadcasting on a social networking site and potentially put yourself, your employer and your employment at risk:
1. Why do I need to broadcast this information?
2. Who can view what I am broadcasting?
3. Is what I’m planning to broadcast personal information?
4. Could someone use this personal information against me?
5. Am I broadcasting information that a friend/colleague/family member wouldn’t appreciate?
6. If I do decide to broadcast, have I ticked all the right boxes to ensure that strangers can’t view the information?
7. How do I ensure that others don’t post personal information on my page?
8. Am I sure I won’t use the site in company time and vent about work?
9. What would my employer think/do if I did this and they found out?
10. If I take a sick day, am I sure my friends won’t mention the beach trip on my page?
If you’re on the London network on Facebook, 200 million people can access your information. If you use MySpace or Bebo, anyone can view your page unless you turn off certain settings.
Is it worth the risk?