I will admit it, I live my life on Facebook. I mean that quite literally…I am on it all the time. During work, at home, on my cell phone. I get more social interaction through that website than I do in real life. Friends, family, even strangers…I have nearly 300 people on my friends list and I keep up with more of them than I ever thought I would. I think it is safe to say that I am addicted.
Of course, this means I have a lot of information stored on my profile. My full name, my siblings and parents, my old high school, pictures, my hometown and current city, and even my mobile number. Considering I am so paranoid about identity theft that I can barely shop on Amazon without going into a full panic, my level of openness on a social network is alarming.
Because of this, I am terrified of having my password stolen and my account usurped. While I doubt I am the most interesting person a phisher could commandeer, it is still my life. So, like any trendy girl of the modern age, I decided to look into those ways that the shady underlings of the net can steal your Facebook info and take over your online identity.
The most common method, password phishing has been going on for some time and there is no sign of it letting up any time soon. Phishing occurs when a trap of sorts is laid (usually through a link that appears to come from a friend on your list). But instead of going to what it says it will, it goes to an alternate page. The phisher gains access to your account and takes it over, remotely posting another trap for friends.
This can be done through email, social networking sites, or even instant messages. It can also be done by creating a website that looks like the real deal, but when you sign in you will have your information stolen. This is usually done a lot for Facebook, as people send messages that appear to be from the site, offering links to new content or threatening to shut your account down.
How To Protect Yourself: Be cautious about links you click on. If it looks like it is from a friend, even on your Wall, that says to click on something to win an item, stay away. Be skeptical of any messages that come from a friend that seem suspect, such as being sent to a mass of people with nothing but a link in the content.
When receiving emails, be sure it is really from Facebook. If the email address seems strange, or if the official page is not http://www.facebook.com (or doesn’t start with that), then assume it is fake. Also, remember that Facebook will never delete your account unless you 1) ask them too; or 2) violate their terms of service.
2. Applications and Fan Pages
Password theft? There’s an app for that. In fact, on Facebook there are a number of them, all hiding amongst legitimate programs and looking to take your profile. There has been an increasing number of people saying that they granted access to a page or application and suddenly found themselves regularly posting things to their wall that they never authorized.
There are also some users who report getting viruses from Facebook ads, which show up on the side of your profile and live stream page. This is because they connect to third parties, and they are totally user-generated. Meaning you can do any third party site that might be harboring a trojan or other malware.
How To Protect Yourself: The best thing you can do is be wary of applications, games, ads and fanpages. That doesn’t mean you can never play anything or do any of the fun little apps that the site has to offer. Just that you should pay attention to certain things, like what information it says it will access, whether you have heard of it before, if anyone you know has used it and the star rating system.
3. Public Computers
The easiest way to have your info stolen is by being careless with your login. There have been countless people who have left their information logged in at school work, Internet cafes and even on phones and laptops at the Apple Store. This will let someone who comes on after you see your account, and even post messages on it.
Many people see this as a fine opportunity for trolling, which can be innocent enough. But other times it can be much more damaging. Depending on the person they can mess with relationships, post things that are offensive, write embarrassing or even hurtful messages and more.
How To Protect Yourself: Be careful about logging out of all accounts when you are using a device that is not specifically your own. If you do forget, or you want to check, you can go to go to Account > Account Security. There you will find the most recent activity, including what device your account was being used on. You can log out of any device from anywhere using this feature.