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By Wilson Rothman
msnbc.com
updated 7/23/2010 6:59:24 PM ET 2010-07-23T22:59:24

A researcher trying to prove the fragility of social network security created an entirely fictional analyst, listed "her" on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other services, and gathered over 300 friends from the U.S. military, the intelligence community and security companies, according to an amazing interview in Computerworld.

"Robin Sage," a figment of security researcher Thomas Ryan's imagination, was an attractive 25-year-old woman with an MIT education, a job at the Naval Network Warfare Command and "over 10 years" of hacking experience. (So, she started hacking at age 14.)

After a short while using the three most relevant social networks, Ryan scored friends for Sage who shared photos, personal information, conference invites and requests to review documents. Ryan said that Sage even got some employment nibbles from Google and Lockheed Martin.

The funny thing is, people from the alleged schools Sage attended wanted nothing to do with her — Ryan said that they're "very cliquey." It was easier to penetrate the intelligence and security communities — though it's worth noting that nobody from the CIA or FBI ever linked to Sage, despite Ryan's attempts. At her peak, Sage had 226 friends on Facebook, 206 on LinkedIn, and 204 on Twitter.

"Why do you think Sage was so successful at making new connections?" asked Computerworld's Jaikumar Vijayan. "Because she was an attractive girl," replied Ryan — who noted that Sage's connections were 82 percent male. "It definitely had to do with looks."

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