Social networking websites like Facebook can be a great way to stay connected, but your privacy is also at risk of being violated by hackers.
Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites in the country, with 500 million users. Terrence Bradley considers himself an avid fan of the site, but so are the criminals who hacked into his account.
“I was really surprised because I always thought, well, this can’t happen to me,” Bradley said.
Bradley found out about the violation through his friends.
“They would call me up and tell me that someone hacked into my Facebook page because someone was sending them advertisements through my messenger,” he said.
FBI Special Agent Kristine Green said it’s a growing trend Facebookers should be concerned about.
“People who are committing fraud will actually go onto Facebook and they’ll mine information on their victims and they’ll use that information against their victims,” she said. “And has anything to do with where the victim lives, what the victim does for a living, or the relatives, neighbors or friends associates the victim has.”
Green said criminals are becoming even more sophisticated. They’re hiding spam attacks inside of links in the advertisements on Facebook. She said it may have been the same advertisements sent to Bradley’s friends from his Facebook account.
“There maybe a link on there that takes you to a malicious program that would then download onto your computer and allow someone to take control of your computer or get access to your information,” Green said. “And they might look for your bank account information and passwords to your bank accounts, that type of thing.”
Green said there are ways you can protect yourself. She said criminals use a password cracker that runs common words against the computer system, and you’re more likely to become a target if you have a weak password.
“The most important things they don’t want to use are names or things that can easily be associated with them, so they want to pick something a little bit more obscure and you don’t want to be limited to just words in the dictionary. You want to include numbers and special characters,” she said.
Another downfall for most users, Green said, are security settings.
“It really depends on how much information you have on your site. If you have a lot of personal information on there, you’ll likely want to keep it more restricted,” Green said.
Green warns Facebookers to change their security settings and limit to people you know, otherwise it will be available for everyone, even criminals. It’s something Bradley learned the hard way.
“I created a new password, a really long password. Since then, I haven’t been hacked,” Bradley said.
Green suggests that if you ever get an advertisement sent from your friends on Facebook, talk to them to make sure they were the ones who sent it.