How Social Loneliness Could Effect Privacy Practices

How Social Loneliness Could Effect Privacy Practices

Social media was designed to connect people. At least, that’s what those behind these sites never stop of telling us. They’re meant to create, as Mark Zuckerberg says, “a digital town square.” Yet, as it turns out, the effect social media has on us seems to actually be going in the opposite direction. Social media is making us less social. 

Last year a study by the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University was published showing links between social media use and depression. And now the same team has released new study that takes things a step further. The study found that not only does social media lead to depression, but actually increases the likelihood of social isolation. According to the study’s findings, for every 10% rise in negative experience on social media, there was a 13% increase in loneliness. And what’s more, they found that positive experiences online show no link to an increase in feelings of social connections.  

These two studies make clear what we may already feel: the form in which social media connects us ends up leaving us more isolated. And, as strange as it may sound, this could have a profound impact on how we view our privacy. At root, privacy involves the maintenance of a healthy self-identity. And this identity doesn’t form in a vacuum. Instead, it is shaped through our relationship to a community of people. 

So, to the extent social media is isolating, it is also desensitizing to our notions of ourselves and to the world which surrounds us. When we lose a sense of boundaries in relation to community then anything, including the value of  privacy, can go out the window.  

And this can turn into a vicious cycle: the lonelier you feel, the more you’re likely to seek validation on social media. Yet, the more you seek that validation, the more that sense of loneliness rears its head. And often seeking this type of social validation leads to privacy taking a back seat. Earlier we wrote about an increase in the success of romance scams, which is just one example of how a sense of loneliness can have the effect of corroding privacy practices.  

While these studies don’t exactly mean we should go off the grid, it’s clear that to understand and value ourselves, we need at times to detach from technology. And, from a business perspective, there are lessons to be learned here too. While technology can make communication more convenient, that shouldn’t translate to having every conversation through a digital platform. Pick up the phone. Have lunch with a customer. Talk to them instead of selling themHaving more personalized conversation will not only translate to stronger business relationships but may even have an effect on the value placed on privacy as well.  

Isn’t It Romantic

Isn’t It Romantic


One of the interesting aspects of the internet age is not only the proliferating of online scams, but the fact that those scams create the basis for Reality TV. The prime example is catfishing: where a person creates fake social media accounts and uses this persona to build romantic relationships online. Not only have public figures fallen victim, capturing the attention of the media, but MTV even has a highly popular reality show on the subject.  

Perhaps because of the attention catfishing has gottenits often not taken very seriously. Andbesides the embarrassment of getting tricked, catfishing may appear to be relatively harmless. Well, as it turns out, this is far from the case. According to statistics from the Federal Trade Commision, romance scams have evolved into the most costly form of consumer fraud today.  

Of the 21,000 reports submitted to the FTC in 2018, victims of these scams lost a total of $143 million — a 23% increase from 2015. What’s more, the median individual loss from a romance scam is seven times higher than all other types of fraud.  

With statistics like that, catfishing might not be as entertaining as it used to seem.  

How They Work

While we assume catfishing usually starts on dating apps, scammers utilize many different social networking websitesIn fact, many report that the scams started with a Facebook message. But whatever the means, the scammer will use a photo often taken another person’s profile and build relationships online with unsuspecting victims. Romance scams can play out over months of even years in order to build up trust.  

Of course, the scam can only work as long as they never actually meet in public. Scammers will therefore often claim to be living abroad or serving in the military. This even helps to eventually convince the victim to send them money, claiming they need the money travel back to the states to meet. In other cases, the scammer will play on the victim’s sense of decency by claiming they are in urgent need of help to pay medical bills.  

However, a new trend seems to be emerging. In August, the FBI released a statement warning that romance scams are now starting to use victims as unknowing ‘money mules.’ According to the statement, after gaining the victims trust scammers will convince them to open a new bank account in order to send and receive funds. The scammers will then use the account to transfer illegal funds and “facilitate criminal activities for a short period of time.” 

Whatever the case, catfish scams certainly deserve to be taken more seriously than they often areWhile it may be hard to believe people actually fall for them, the data shows they’re becoming more and more successful. One of the likely reasons for this is, like with phishing and Nigerian prince scams, they don’t exploit technical but rather human vulnerabilities. By learning what buttons to push, scammers are getting better and better at getting their victim to act against common sense.  It’s therefore important that everyone understands these emerging trends to help protect against the financial threat these scams pose. 

Context Matters

When it comes to threat detection, there are plenty of security controls out there that can help detect attacks within your network. And while these security controls are certainly useful, they don’t really give you the big picture of what happened. 

Context matters. This is why proper event logging is such an important component of any organization’s cybersecurity posture. Simply stated, event logs create an audit trail of all activity across your networks: from firewall activity, to software updates, to remote access. These logs provide the data necessary to properly analyze your network, and, if an incident occurs, be able to understand the overall context of what happened, how and why  

How Logs Can Help

Threat Identification and Prevent  

In order to know what your network looks like when something goes wrong, you first need to understand what your network looks like when everything is working normally. Using event logs help create a profile of normal network activity in order to keep a baselineOnce you know what normal activity within your network looks like, logging can then help identify any activity outside of this norm. 

By being able to identify unusual activity, event logs can be an invaluable tool in preventing attacks before they actually occurWhen properly utilized, event logs are able to provide early warning signs of an attack and allow organization to respond before the intruders can cause damage.   

Post-Breach Recover and Forensics 

If, despite best efforts, a data breach does occur, event logs continue to be an important resource. After an attack, logs can first and foremost, help organization determine the scope of an attack, assess the damage and isolate the incidentensuring it doesn’t spread to other parts of your network.  

Logs also provide the information necessary to understand how an attack occurred in the first place. By providing the overall context of an incident, event logs help organization understand not only what happened, but how they can prevent similar attacks from happening in the future.  

Managing Logs

Despite the value event logs provide, many organizations neglect to use them. Because logs will create a trail about everything that happens on your network, they can be difficult to store and daunting to manage. While logs don’t need to be kept forever, its important have enough space to maintain log trails for a certain period of timeLogs can take up a lot of space, but if you overwrite them too much, you may lose critical information. 

This is where Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems come in. While business should decide on log filtering and storage policies that work for them, SIEM systems can help automate this process to ensure that policy is effectively managed. SIEM systems also help analysis the often overwhelming amount of information event logs provide and even create alerts when it notices a potential problem. 

Combining event logs and SIEM systems goes a long way toward providing organizations the necessary context to understand threats to their networks. Logs can provide tailor-made insight into an organization’s vulnerabilities. What’s more, logs can even help mitigate the regulatory consequences of a breach, by providing evidence that an attack wasn’t a result of company negligence. At the end of the day, when event logs are properly managed, there is no more valuable resource.