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.