It started with a Facebook message from my mother-in-law last last night. It read “DO NOT ACCEPT ANY FRIEND REQUESTS FROM ME AT THIS TIME”. Being a tech person, I already knew what this meant. Someone properly spoofed her account and was sending fake friend requests to her real friends in order to get information to later compromise their accounts. Then I got on Facebook today and saw that several others were posting the same message.
Facebook recently had it’s largest data breach in the companies history. Close to 50 millions accounts were comprised and another 40 millions accounts might have been comprised, as hackers exploited a series of bugs related to a Facebook feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. The “View As” feature is designed to allow users to experience how their privacy settings look to another person.
All this got me thinking: How can we keep our Facebook accounts safe?
1. Change Your Password To A More Complex Password
Look…I get it. We have passwords for everything these days. Who wants to have another password to remember? But considering all the sensitive information that Facebook collects on you, this should be your first line of defense. Facebook passwords have a minimum of 8 characters and there seems to be no maximum limit. So make it as long as you want. Be careful not to make the password the same as your e-mail, banking info, etc.
2. Use 2 Factor Authentication
2 Factor Authentication is a very technical term for allowing a secondary way for a website to confirm that you are you. When setup, it sends a code to your cellphone that you must then type in Facebook as a secondary confirmation that you are the real account owner. You can activate it by going to Settings > Security and Login > Use Two-Factor Authentication
3. Choose Friends To Contact If You Get Locked Out
Think of giving someone a spare key to your house if you ever get locked out. You can do the same thing with Facebook by nominating 3 to 5 friends to help you unlock your account if you ever get locked out. Set it up by going to Settings > Security > Choose friends to contact if you get locked out
4. Clean Up Your Friend List
One way a hacker can gain valuable information about you is through your friends. They can create a Facebook account with your family members or friends account info, job info, and even their profile picture. After friending you, they will wait until the right time to send a private message or ask you to download a game. But what they are really doing is a technique calling: phishing (which is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication). Clean out your friends list and de-friend anyone who may have a second Facebook account, has an account that looks suspicious, or someone who you may not want snooping around your page.
5. Clean Up Apps That Are Connected To Your Facebook Page
Facebook apps and games collect random information about you when you use them. We learned about the seriousness of this during the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a third-party company erroneously accessed data that a then-legitimate quiz app had siphoned up, this vulnerability allowed attackers to directly take over user accounts. If your on the web, look toward the left hand side of Facebook, under the Explore section. Unlink from any apps, games, groups, or pages that you do not need anymore.
6. Get Alerts About Unrecognized Logins
Facebook has extra security settings that will alert you via e-mail if someone else attempts to login to your Facebook account from another computer or phone. If they do, you’ll get an alert and you can press a link to tell Facebook that it was not you who logged in. Activate this feature by going to Settings > Security and Login > Get alerts about unrecognized logins
7. Check Your Privacy Settings
More of a personal setting then a security one. You should always check your privacy settings. At least every six months to make sure they are still doing what you want them to do. Facebook won’t ever change a setting for you, but they may roll out a new feature that you may not want to be apart of. Your privacy settings also tell Facebook what information to share and what information not to share with 3rd party games, apps, and other websites.