5 simple steps to protect yourself from hackers on facebook

May 21st, 2010 by Frank Guzzo Leave a reply »

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for some time now but things just seem to keep getting in the way.  So its time to stop procrastinating as I have no excuses left and I just need to do it!

We read so much these days about the benefits of building a following of friends on the social platforms, like LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook just to name a few. And by the way, these are probably the most popular platforms out there and you can add MySpace to the popularity list.  Yes, there are so many benefits to using these networks to connect with family and friends and for businesses the opportunities are endless.

What we do not hear about are the potential dangers that lurk in the dark corners of some of these platforms and today specifically, I want to address the privacy issues and risks we all assume by creating a profile on FaceBook.

Last week a friend of mine who uses FaceBook strictly to stay in touch with her friends and family had her account hacked.  Quite frankly, I don’t know how it happens, but it did happen. Her identity was stolen and somehow the hackers also took control of her yahoo email address even though she had two completely separate passwords for these accounts.

The long and short of that story is that emails were being sent out by the hacker to her friends list imploring them with a very compelling story of how she was stranded in the UK at a hotel and had been robbed.  She could not settle her hotel bill and needed money wired immediately to get her home.  Now I saw this email in my inbox and it was sent from her Yahoo account which would make it a legitimate email, but I have seen this before and knew immediately that she had been hacked.  I later found out that the emails started rolling out around 3 AM pacific.

Hackers will write to your friends using calling them by name and using family members names to get you to believe the story. They are very good at what they do and quite believable.

The sad part to this story was that a couple of her friends started calling the number in the UK to find out how to transfer the money needed to get their friend home.  Thankfully they were able to reach my friends husband who was aware of what was going on and stopped them from sending any money.  My friend had no way of emailing everyone as she had not control over her regular email account.  FaceBook does not have a number to call for these types of emergencies and so we are left with just emailing from a help page.  She could not post on her wall that her account had been hacked and so for the hours that this process went on, some serious damage could have been done.

This is a violation of a persons privacy in every way.  FaceBook does make a few statements here and there to alert people of the dangers by hackers and lack of privacy on the social platforms. I believe they do not do enough.

There are over 400 million people on FaceBook.  And yet a threat this great is rarely ever spoken of in the form of a banner perhaps or safety tips on the side column from FaceBook. They do however give much attention to detail when it comes to adds and custom landing pages and generating revenue, (1 billion projected for 2010) that very little in my opinion is being done to protect the everyday average user.

Here is a great article that gives you some idea of the tactics used by hackers across the globe.  http://bit.ly/bbJaPK and although the article is over a year old, it is still valid.

Here are some simple steps you can take to prevent this from happening to you.

  1. Be sensible – If your friend writes asking you to send money, call around and verify that this is actually the case BEFORE you start calling foreign numbers
  2. Limit the amount of information you post about yourself and especially your children.  Hackers make themselves seem like regular, normal people but with the intent to hurt you in some way. They COLLECT as much information about you as possible.
  3. Take the initiative and post something on your wall alerting others of the potential dangers of hackers and advising your friends and family to always confirm with you and your family about any suspicious email they get requesting money.
  4. Never share your password with anyone and always where possible add a character at somewhere in your password.
  5. Create an alternate email address within FaceBook so if hackers have taken control of one email you can always have the account reset by using the alternate address.

These are just some simple and very basic steps you can take to protect yourself.  There is so much information available online if you do a Google Search.

The bottom line is Social Networking can be fun, but just like most things in life, you need to take precautions to protect yourself from the potential dangers and pitfalls of networking in a community of 400 million users. So have fun, be social and BE SAFE.

Frank Guzzo is an international speaker and the owner of Emerging Sales Success, a sales and marketing consulting company specializing in social media marketing and focused on building solutions for regional, national and international businesses alike. We keep up with trends, filter the noise and help companies like yours put social media to work.  To learn more about us, our services, and how you can use social media marketing to build your brand or to hire Frank as a speaker for your next event, contact us. 1-877-617-7717

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