Your Facebook username and password should be as sensitive as your bank PIN, according to analyst and blogger Liron Segev, following a rise in security concerns because of cloning.
Hackers find an opened account, copy and save the profile’s contents including the friends list, create a new account with similar details and then invite the victim’s friends and family to reconnect with them on the new account.
Unsuspecting friends that accept the request are led to believe that the account is valid before hackers go in for the kill.
Aside from taking general steps to protect your social networking accounts, such as protecting passwords, Segev lists, on his blog, specific steps you can take to avoid your account being cloned.
»Go to your Facebook account settings, then click on the security settings option
» Scroll right down to view active sessions;
» If you have more than one one account from a suspicious or unknown area/region or device you should delete it/them;
» Users are also advised to visit Facebook’s help centre which has easy-to-follow steps that can help report any problems with their accounts or see any irregularities with a friends account.
Why is my account being cloned?
Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx, an internet and mobile research organisation says: “Scammers try to get enough information in order to do things that can range from loaning money from your family and friends to gaining access to your bank account.”
He says the easiest way to ensure that your account doesn’t get cloned – because doing it is as easy as copying and pasting information – is by ensuring that its settings are private.
This means that “only your friends and family and can view your personal information and pictures”.
Other steps that can be taken to minimise threats are:
» Making sure, when using a public computer at a library or internet cafe, that you sign out completely; and
» Never clicking on links that allow for the an app to gain access to your account details.
“Be nervous about any app that requires access to your details,” says Goldstuck.
He added that the best way of making sure a link is trusted is by opening a new tab and doing a search on it.
What can I do?
Reporting the hacking to Facebook’s help centre takes longer than expected but is a solution nonetheless, Goldstuck says.
Victims could contact the police’s cybercrimes unit and “even if they might not deal with your case immediately the reports are useful and add (to) the weight of evidence regarding similar crimes,” he says.
However, Segev points out that even though the SAPS has a division that deals with cybercrimes “realistically, the priority of dealing with them might not be high”.
He blames this on the possibility of an average police officer not being equipped enough to deal with the crime.
“They might able to categorise the crime if it’s as specific as young girls being lured by a stranger to meet somewhere,” he says.
Beware of malware
Goldstuck says one can get malware from “dodgy websites where people can illegally download movies, music or porn”.
These sites have add-ons that claim to give you perks that are too good to be true, then add viruses to your computer.
Be wary of apps that claim to show you who is viewing your timeline, offer a “shocking video” of a celebrity or the ability to change the colour of your timeline.
Goldstuck says malware has a number of viruses that can access and destroy your computer but the worst is the kind that “can install a keylogger which records everything you type, including passwords, which then gets e-mailed to hackers on the back end”.
Watch this Facebook video for more on malware:
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