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RSA Europe 2012: Facebook use has eroded online privacy forever, claim security experts

10 Oct 2012
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LONDON: The huge use of social networks like Facebook means internet users have already lost any chance of online anonymity, according to security experts from Symantec, RSA, Jericho and Qualys.

Symantec chief technology officer Greg Day said that users who have already posted basic information on Facebook would find it tough to remove it in the future.

"People are realising what they're posting online and want to retract back. People want to remove their date of birth from their Facebook page, but it's already out there," said Day, speaking at the RSA Europe conference on Wednesday.

Qualys chief technology officer Wolfgang Kandek went on to warn that the ongoing presence of the data online can allow companies and criminals to learn other key details.

"If you have date of birth, sex and postcode you can identify the person from 85 percent in the Western world," said Kandek.

RSA programme chairman Herbert Hugh Thompson added the data could cause lasting damage to social network users outside of the digital space.

"It's fascinating when you think about hiring discrimination especially in US, where you can't discriminate on key things like sex, age, race," said Thompson.

"If you start to search for someone, you naturally find out some of these things. It's such a slippery slope."

Thompson went on to warn that the issues around social network privacy come as a part of wider concerns regarding European data laws.

"Laws change frequently [...] companies have to pick which countries laws they'll have to break and what the consequences will be," said Thompson.

"Complexity in central Europe, that's a headache in its own right and the privacy part is bubbling to the service," concurred Day,

The security chiefs comments follow on from similar warnings from RSA executive chairman Art Coviello, who earlier claimed existing privacy laws are hampering companies' ability to protect themselves from hackers.

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Alastair Stevenson
About

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

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