Perimeter
7/9/2010
12:57 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Would 'Robin Sage' Have Made So Many Friends Without The Hot Pics?

One of the intriguing and slightly disturbing aspects of the "Robin Sage" social network experiment is the role the phony profile's looks had in, well, attracting people. Men especially. There -- I said it.

One of the intriguing and slightly disturbing aspects of the "Robin Sage" social network experiment is the role the phony profile's looks had in, well, attracting people. Men especially. There -- I said it.The photos used for Robin were of a pretty young woman who looked like a cosmopolitan, fresh-faced twentysomething. In reality, the pictures were actually of a woman who posed on pornographic websites (but those who fell for her didn't know that part). Thomas Ryan, who conducted the social networking experiment on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, purposely picked an attractive young woman's photos for the profile.

Robin scored connections with people in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIO of the NSA, an intelligence director for the U.S. Marines, a chief of staff for the U.S. House of Representatives, and several Pentagon and DoD employee. Her profiles also attracted defense contractors the likes of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Ryan believes the online model's photos sealed the deal for many of Robin's friend acceptances -- she got a lot of dinner invitations to discuss job offers from defense contractors who'd never met her, nor apparently checked on her background. It seems that some of her connections, friends, and followers overlooked past the obvious discrepancy with Robin's accomplished resume and her relatively young age, as well as the glaring clues left in plain sight, like her name, taken from the U.S. Army Special Forces training exercise, as well as other hints that could easily have exposed the ruse. Why? Because they wanted to be her friend, Ryan says. Most people by nature crave popularity on social networks (why else would you post half the stuff you do?) and thus amass as many connections, friends, and followers as they can, he says. And Robin's looks were an added bonus.

Ryan says Robin's physical appearance was "huge" in making the experiment work in the male-dominated fields in which she supposedly worked.

If Ryan had chosen an ordinary, Susan Boyle-like image instead of that of a porn model for his online fake identity, would she have gotten as lucky? It pains me to say this, but probably not.

So I can't help but wonder if Robin Sage had instead been a male persona with beefcake photos of a Calvin Klein model if "he" would have had the same affect on women in the military, Intel, and IT security fields. Maybe someone should test that theory.

-- Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading Follow Kelly (@kjhiggins) on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kjhiggins Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2188
Published: 2015-02-26
The Authentication Proxy feature in Cisco IOS does not properly handle invalid AAA return codes from RADIUS and TACACS+ servers, which allows remote attackers to bypass authentication in opportunistic circumstances via a connection attempt that triggers an invalid code, as demonstrated by a connecti...

CVE-2015-0594
Published: 2015-02-26
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the help pages in Cisco Common Services, as used in Cisco Prime LAN Management Solution (LMS) and Cisco Security Manager, allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug IDs CSCuq54654 and CSCun1...

CVE-2015-0632
Published: 2015-02-26
Race condition in the Neighbor Discovery (ND) protocol implementation in Cisco IOS and IOS XE allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service via a flood of Router Solicitation messages on the local network, aka Bug ID CSCuo67770.

CVE-2015-0651
Published: 2015-02-26
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the web GUI in Cisco Application Networking Manager (ANM), and Device Manager (DM) on Cisco 4710 Application Control Engine (ACE) appliances, allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users, aka Bug ID CSCuo99753.

CVE-2015-0882
Published: 2015-02-26
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in zencart-ja (aka Zen Cart Japanese edition) 1.3 jp through 1.3.0.2 jp8 and 1.5 ja through 1.5.1 ja allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted parameter, related to admin/includes/init_includes/init_sanitize.php an...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.