On behalf of Ahmed Saafan (project owner and administrator)
I have taken a significant amount of time thinking about releasing the program or not for the same reasons that everybody is discussing, abuse. However, I came to the conclusion that we should release it in the old “Full disclosure” way. My main goals for the release are:
· User awareness for what is happening already in the wild but in a covert way: I already have seen many cases of innocent people being socially engineered and blackmailed because they do not know the implications of their actions online. This tool should make the people aware of the implications of their actions online. Accepting friend requests for even the smallest period of time without manually verifying that the friend is actually who he claims to be, is an example of wrong actions that we wanted to demonstrate. I have tried telling as many social media entities as possible about our PoC so that people get to know the risks as fast as possible and start being more careful about what they do online. Also, with the code being online, we tried to send a message of good intention; that we are not hiding anything within the binary code and that we don’t want any compensation.
· Facebook attention to their flawed user verification process: From Facebook’s perspective, I think Facebook should have a more strict policy for verifying that people are who they claim to be, and filter out fake or impersonating accounts. I know that this contradicts with usability in a great way, but Facebook should figure out a way to do it. The tool demonstrates the risks that are already out there for user impersonation. I believe without fake accounts on Facebook, people wouldn’t risk their own account to be used in cons, or at least it the numbers will be reduced significantly.
Also, we have seen a very successful example of full disclosure, i.e. Firesheep. I think Firesheep has achieved in a very short time a significant amount of user awareness and got the people’s attention to the importance of SSL without being abused (to a great extent). However, now, non-technical users think as long as they have SSL enabled they are safe. So the tool is just another step into having –hopefully- a more secure cyber social network.