What’s On Your Facebook
Did you ever think that Facebook (or other social media sites) may assist a hacker? By now, everyone has heard of identity theft and we’ve all been warned about giving out private information over the phone or email. Have you looked at your Facebook account to see what you’ve revealed? Maybe your birthday, phone number or your location… all of these may be part of answers to security questions during the “account recovery” process (Account recovery are the steps to go through when you forget your login password to site). This simple info is the easy start a hacker needs to gain entry to your personal info. Once a hacker gains access to one of your accounts they can quickly climb the ladder to access your credit card info or bank account and it grows from there.
Many people assume that online security was only necessary for financial related sites (like your credit card or bank website). Today, hackers are willing to invest time in a slow process of creeping into your personal data. We’ve all seen lame attempts at phishing scams with fake emails from your bank, or the classic “I’m a prince/widow who needs to store my money with you for safe keeping” email. Those scammers (primitive hackers) still exist, but here’s how some of the new hackers are going to work. They start with a new bogus (facebook) account and begin sending friend requests to real users. Once someone accepts the friend request the hacker can now view what was once protected info on their new friends’ facebook profiles. Date of birth, phone numbers, personal emails are all a start for the hacker.
In light of this info, it’s a safe to say we should simply avoid random (stranger) friend requests right? Well it’s not that simple. Most people who protect their profile info on facebook have it set so friends of friends can see their info. So guess what happens when one of your 400+ facebook friends slips up and adds the hacker to their friend list? You guessed it, that hacker can now see your facebook page info. The solution? Well you could simply delete or deactivate your facebook account but most people aren’t going to do that. A start would be remove your year of birth, your phone number, and maybe not even your personal email address from your facebook profile.
If a hacker does know your personal email address, your birth date and phone number it doesn’t guarantee the hacker entry to all your personal info… so don’t panic! Think about changing your passwords every so often and also removing your birth date from your account recovery questions.
Wait There’s More…
One of the biggest forms of hacking are through phishing and malware. An example may be when you’re browsing the web and you’re requested to click somewhere in order to “scan your computer for viruses” or to “update” your software. So you decide to click and you’re diverted to what looks like a legitimate download page to increase your security; or maybe you’re diverted to an account login page to verify something. Most people don’t check the address bar to examine the website URL and realize that the login page is actually a hackers page waiting for you to divulge your precious username and password.
If you are diverted to a download page to install an update be sure to check the website address before you accept/proceed or download. Wait, did you check it carefully? Let’s give it a test. This URL looks safe, right? www.adobe.com-newsoftware.dl/downaloads/version4.html? If you thought that was a link to adobe.com well sorry it’s actually a domain called newsoftware.dl. The rest of the URL is just a tailored subdomain to give the look of a legitimate adobe download site. Other more complicated website scripts may actually just download a cookie which appears safe but (when sometimes combined with another click) results in an unnoticed malware download.
Have you ever opened your web browser and found that your home page had been changed to something new (and weird)? Or maybe a strange new toolbar has been added to your browser? That could be the result of adware or spyware, a kind of malware which may have the ability to steal information on your computer. Another common source of malware entry is through websites which offer free downloads of music, video, software and streaming. They use the lure of free media to gain visitors to their site, only to feed you poisonous malware.
It’s important to stay protected so try to stay on top of the following:
- Have an up to date anti-virus program
- Have an up to date anti-malware program
- Change your account passwords at least every couple of months
- Use different password for different accounts
- Limit the personal info, like phone number and birth date, you present on Facebook (and other social sites)
- Watch where you click and what you download (look at the URL/address bar)
Have You Been Hacked?
If you think you’ve been hacked immediately run your anti-virus program and then your anti-malware scan; then use the program recommendations to repair the issue. If you notice unusual or unwanted programs on your computer you may want to remove them using uninstall. If your web browser has an unwanted home page or search bar, remove it by going into the browser settings. If all these suggestions still don’t fix the problem, try using Windows System Restore as a last resort. For advanced to expert users, there is usually a manual remove option for a lot of malware which can be found by googling the virus name.
Want to share your experience? Have any questions?