A Conversation About Facebook Hacking

Facebook hacking - Internet scams social media profilesRecently I answered a series of questions via email to a journalist at the Herald newspaper.

How exactly do people hack Facebook accounts and duplicate them? You may be more likely to be a target of scammers and spammers instead of real hackers. Malware is the key ingredient in hacking social media sites. They normally send you a message with a link. The link opens a script, a small software program, which collects passwords from your web browser and sends it to the hacker.

Why do they duplicate the accounts? steal personal information, embarrass their friends etc?

Hackers sell Facebook & Twitter accounts through websites like Fiverr. For example, I go to Fiverr and “buy” 5,000 Facebook LIKES. This is either fake or stolen accounts used to LIKE my Facebook page. The motivation is primarily financial i.e. selling the accounts onto other people. Very few incidents are of a personal nature.

Over the last year has this Facebook hacking becoming more popular? And why?

Facebook has over 1 billion users and is the most active social network. Most people on Facebook have very little experience on the Internet and therefore make stupid mistakes. Since they are inexperienced they fall for phishing or scam emails the more experienced Internet user will not succumb too.

What are some the measures one can take to protect one’s personal information on Facebook?

The best measure is to close your profile. The 2nd best method is to place incorrect information e.g. instead of real date of birth, change the year to something like 1902. Never post your phone number or home address. The more information you post, the easier you make it for hackers and spammers to abuse you. Don’t expect Facebook – the company – to protect your information. They make generate advertising income from your Facebook activities.

What are the dangers of another person being able to access someone’s account?

The dangers include cyber bullying and identify fraud. Identify fraud is a financial risk because bank accounts and cellphone contracts can be opened in your name.

Have the Facebook management implemented any extra security features as a result of the increasing hacking?

Not that I aware. Facebook is a listed company in USA. Their primary focus is finding new ways to generate income not to protect the privacy of their users. In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg said publicly “privacy is dead!”

How would one be able to identify whether your Facebook account has been hacked? And what should one do should one discover that your account has been hacked?

You will notice updates being posted by someone else. The people most disadvantaged are the ones using mobile phones who have a limited display of Facebook features. From a laptop or tablet you can see more of the activities.

Is there anyway of tracking who the individual is that has hacked the profile? If so, how? And who should it be reported to?

In most cases it not easy or possible to track the hacker. You need extremely advanced knowledge of internet security to do so. Since most users are novices online, the best they can do is to change their password. Passwords must be changed at least once every 6 months and include numbers and one special character like @ or #. You must report all spam and scamming incidents to support@facebook.com and abuse@yourisp domain.

Facebook is an easy target for hackers and I believe scammers. Hackers are too busy attacking government sites like Wikileaks have demonstrated. Scammers on the other hand are more focused on data mining i.e. the collection and building of vast databases. These databases are re-sold many times to companies who are not always illegal but unscrupulous if you know what I mean.


Do Facebook Junkies Have Real Friends?

Facebook privacy Mark ZuckerbergFacebook is the biggest reality show in the world. It has more than 1 billion unpaid actors who live a portion of the lives online. Recently I was interviewed by the Weekend Post newspaper about Facebook junkies or people who have more than 4,000 friends. It’s also notable I’ve closed my profile again just last week. The goal for me is to stay off Facebook until I’ve completed my long overdue book, The Psychology of Technology.

Anyway as I see it the biggest danger of publishing so much information about yourself online, is the risk of identity theft by scammers and spammers. The more personal information is published on open platforms like Facebook, the easier it is for people to steal your identity and open bank accounts, cellphone contracts and conduct transactions in your name. Those days when Facebook was a walled garden and Google was not allowed to index it’s content is history.

Facebook has ineffective privacy controls at best because they keep changing the rules. Each new feature introduced like Facebook Home, blurs the invisible line between what users want to remain private and what is actually shared. You can find significant amount of information just via Google searches without even logging into Facebook.

The company makes money from using your personal profile information to generate advertising. So it will never put it’s users concerns first while it impacts revenue or their share price.

One update per day is acceptable for most. The moment you post 10 or more updates per day, you are clearly looking for validation from your Facebook friends. For some people its acceptable to do up to 10 updates over a 12 hour period when they are promoting their business. For personal communication I’ve had some real-world friends remove me because my own business updates are to numerous.

The #1 piece of information NOT to post is your location. Make sure you GPS and Location services are turned off on your Smartphones or Tablets. If you don’t, below each update your location will be provided. Using Inbox to communicate with other users instead of public comments helps to increase privacy. The average Facebook user seems to often ignore good manners online.

The number of friends or followers was never an accurate reflection of who you are in real life. It is vastly exaggerated for the majority of Facebook users. One reason for this is the Facebook feature that constantly suggests new friends to you. I estimate at least half of people Facebook friends are people they’ve never met, and may never meet.

Facebook stopped being an closed platform when they allowed profiles to be indexed by Google several years ago. Mark Zuckerburg also demonstrated his attitude towards Facebook users when he said privacy was dead in 2010. People who believe their information or photos or updates are private since that statement are either ignorant or stupid.


Juan Enriquez: Your online life, permanent as a tattoo

This is an excellent short lecture on the true value of privacy. Even if you had no profiles online, you’re still being recorded on every camera in offices buildings, malls and airports by CCTV.

What if Andy Warhol had it wrong, and instead of being famous for 15 minutes, we’re only anonymous for that long? In this short talk, Juan Enriquez looks at the surprisingly permanent effects of digital sharing on our personal privacy. He shares insight from the ancient Greeks to help us deal with our new “digital tattoos.”