This blog could quite easily have been called – Just How Much Of A Security Risk Does User Generated Content (UGC) Represent? It was late last night when I was checking mail that I was offered a link to "Find Out Who Blocked You On Facebook" by someone I trust implicitly.
Thankfully my malware radar is working well these days and I immediately copied it to my friend and asked if it was spam, which of course it was.
It's a sad but true fact that UGC channels and web 2.0 user socially influenced content is becoming one of the most appealing sources of fresh blood for the ne'er-do-wells of the world wide web. It's kind of like a Mafia inside job where we're being offered a link that we simply can't refuse.
It's user generated, it's family, it's safe, just go ahead and click – Fuggedaboudit!
If User Generated Content is all tickety-boo then, wouldn't you hope that new launches in this category of technology come with some pre-baked security provisioning?
Web application specialists Exalead and (wait for it) Hampshire-based TheWebFellas, have launched a "collaborative web project" (OK guys, we know that means just keep quiet) called AskPeopleYouKnow.com under the auspices of an outfit called Aubert Park Ventures back in September 2009.
The website provides a ‘social search’ service so that users can tap into their social networks to obtain answers to particular questions, or search for advice and recommendations. Sound scary? Well you need to sign up for it if you want to try it – and at no point in the press statements supporting its launch was the word "security" used with reference to privacy, personal data or malware.
So user generated content (UGC) is at the heart of this project, which is built on Exalead's CloudView platform for creating search-based applications that are intended to access structured as well as unstructured data such as instant messages, emails, web pages and multimedia. Unlike traditional database applications, Exalead says that its search-based applications provide information access via a search engine index and complementary web technologies rather than through direct database queries.
“Thanks to advanced features such as document categorisation, automated entity extraction, multi-language support, fuzzy matching and advanced document indexing capabilities, the Exalead based implementations enable us to give our customers full control over their content,” said Chris Anderton, director of TheWebFellas.
So why does Don Anderton think this will set us all alight? Well da boys over at WebFellas (love your pizzas too guys) say that this mechanism will provide a user experience closer to that of the consumer web. Exalead's positioning statement on this is as follows, "An experience that is intuitive, timely, responsive and relevant. That significantly boosts user satisfaction and enables IT to democratise information access."
Oh, you almost had me there until you starting talking about democratising information. That's not very Martin Scorsese is it?
Seriously though, to finish up here, I won't live link to this site as you'll find it easily enough if you go a Googling. What worries me is that the company didn't talk about security provisioning via social networks up front, as this a major theme right now among the anti-virus vendors out there.
Also – SBA as an acronym for Search Based Applications, are we all familiar and comfortable with that yet? Or do we more naturally think of Simple Business Accounting, Small Business Administration and Spam Blocking Agents. Either way, pass the Parmigianino per favore raggazzi.