How Thieves Use Facebook

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It was only a matter of time before Facebook was penetrated by thieves ready to exploit the popular network for their own gain. Recent trends show that Facebook scams are on the rise and even the fact that Facebook just released an official guide to Facebook security proves that the problem has become quite large. There are a few ways that thieves obtain information through Facebook which if consumers are aware of, they are much more likely to be able to protect themselves. Some of the more active dangers are:

  • Phishing: Scammers use messages and links to trick users into entering personal information that thieves can then use to access bank accounts and other sources of income.
  • Malware installation: Every time something big hits the news, posts will be created by thieves about the issue, but when a user visits the post they are in fact downloading malware to their computer. This may include keylogging software to obtain personal information or to lock up a computers operating system and ask for a ransom in order for the computer to function again.
  • Malicious Scripts: Everyone has seen those posts about finding out who stalks your profile right? Well, should you decide that you would like to know this information you will click on a link which will then ask you to copy a code and paste it in your URL bar. When users do this they have just downloaded malware to their computer…and they never get to find out who stalks their profile.
  • Clickjacking: When a post asks you to click on a link it may be a link to what they say it is. Or, it may be a link hidden under what looks like a legitimate page. By clicking on the button that users think will add a friend, they are in fact clicking on a link to download software to their system. On Facebook there is another form of this called “likejacking.” It is very similar to click jacking, but the malicious link is hidden under the “like” button.
  • Session takeover: There are programs available to the public that allow thieves to takeover a user’s session while they use public wifi. It is not difficult to find out how to use this software and therefore the risk to users is high.

With all of these dangers on the rise, Facebook has finally come out with an official guide to safety. This is a welcomed change from their prior stance that users used Facebook at their own risk. Not only does the guide explain the above scams in greater detail, but explains how to set security settings to an appropriate  level to minimize risks. Some of the easier and most effective tips they give are:

  • Keep your browser up to date: Internet browsers are constantly updating their product to counter problems and if users are not up to date, then they are not protected.
  • Be cautious of clicking on links: Once users click on a link, they have invited thieves into their computer. The tricky thing about Facebook is that the links may be posted by what you think is your friend’s profile, but that profile as in fact been taken over by a hacker.
  • Use HTTPS: The guide shows users how to set their security settings so that whenever possible Facebook will be accessed securely via an HTTPS connection rather than a simple HTTP. This can do wonders in protecting users when using Facebook on a public wifi network. Hopefully, more companies will follow this trend.
  • Take extra precaution on computers that are not your own: It can be something as simple as making sure an account has been logged out of, or having a onetime use password sent to a user’s cell phone. Users cannot be sure what is going on within any computer besides their own and if keylogging software has been installed on a public library computer or a friend sells their laptop without wiping the hard drive.

Facebook is a wonderful tool for communication across the world, but if used irresponsibly can be used to harm users. By staying aware of current threats and ways to protect themselves, users can enjoy this wonderful modern convenience with much less risk.

 

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Nikki Junker

Nikki Junker is Social Media Coordinator and Victim Advisor at The Identity Theft Resource Center. She specializes in Identity Theft on social networks and smartphones. She enjoys working one on one with victims of identity theft as well as researching and writing about preventative measures for consumers.