By Tony Bradley
July 30, 2010
When a security researcher made personal profile information of more
than 170 million Facebook users available to the public on BitTorrent--a
peer-to-peer file sharing site--many questioned why he did not attempt
to sell that information to an interested party. Names and profile data
on that many Facebook users is a potential gold mine of valuable
Apparently, some major corporations agree, and many have jumped on
BitTorrent to download the Facebook data. According to a blog post from
Gizmodo, a reader known as Clint "discovered that all you had to do is
use something like Peer Block, which grabs the IPs of the other users
also downloading the torrent and identifies which company or university
or organization they belong to."
The list of companies that appear to have downloaded the Facebook data
includes 65 organizations--many of which are household names like Cisco,
Intel, Apple, and Symantec. Microsoft was conspicuously absent from the
list of corporations that have tapped the treasure trove of Facebook
data. The blog post does point out, though, that "Just because a company
is on the list, doesn't mean that it's a sanctioned download by the
company itself to grab the user information for some purpose. It could
easily just be some dude at the company who wanted to download the
torrent himself to check it out."
The scenario reminds me of when I was an IT admin for a dot.com way back
when. The philosophy of our CEO was that data is gold--pure and simple.
Basically, all data is good data, and even if there isn't an obvious use
for it today, it should be archived because it might prove useful
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