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Facebook's Standard Security Settings Sufficient ? (Not)

BBC came out with an article today Identity 'at risk' on Facebook which discusses potential stealing of user data by 3rd parties applications of Facebook Development Platform:


"When you add an application, unless you say otherwise, it is given access to most of the information in your profile. That includes information you have on your friends even if they think they have tight security settings."


"Did you know that you were responsible for other people's security?"


Some Facebook applications developers have found this article misleading and "hilarious" - see the following thread: BBC: facebook apps dangerous.


However I find the article to be professional and points discussed there to be correct and valuable for the platform.


One important point developers missing is that the application in question is able to collect user friends data, while these friends are not aware of this application existing at all. No obvious OPT-IN for "friends".


Your friends don't need to install the application or ever login to it to have the info been collected.


Of course it is possible to not allow applications you haven't installed to get any info at all via user "Privacy Settings" page. Don't want to mention it is not obvious for the user he/she should do it. But are these settings secure "by default" ? I guess - no.


The BBC article points that out correctly:


"He said: "Facebook needs to change its default settings and tighten up security.""


"Default Settings" is very important security component of any system or application. In terms of "Default Settings" the good example is Internet Explorer. Think about how many default settings changes have been made in IE during recent years.


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Friday, May 02, 2008 4:43 AM

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