2 Aug 2013

Facebook fakery: how to protect your account

As Channel 4 News reveals the extent of fake fans and how hackers target your Facebook account to boost fake likes, security expert James Lyne gives his tips for keeping your account secure.

Our individual Facebook networks are built around valued connections and personal recommendations.

So what happens account is hacked to make it look like we are a fan of something that at best, we’d never heard of – and at worst, compromises the way we are perceived?

When Penny Walker’s account was hacked, as uncovered by Channel 4 News, she was not impressed.

“It concerns me. I don’t think it’s particularly nice,” she said. “Some of them are really, just horrible – and that’s just looking at the initial picture, without going in and looking at them. And it’s embarrassing to think that my friends think that I’d like something like that.”

So how can we make sure our accounts aren’t hacked in the same way?

If you don’t update your software, you’ll be allowing cyber criminals to install malicious code silently in the background. James Lyne

First of all, make sure your computer software is up to date, says Sophos expert James Lyne: the next time you get a pop-up window on your internet browser asking you to install an update, pay heed.

“Know that that’s for a reason, and if you don’t do it you’ll be allowing the cyber criminals to install malicious code silently in the background,” he adds.

One of the ways hackers access your account, is by infecting a website which then puts malware on your machine to make your account “like” something. This is made easier if you are already logged into Facebook. So it is also worth remembering to log out when you’ve finished your Facebook browsing.

Privacy controls

Next, check your Facebook security: go to privacy settings, and set controls under “Who can see my stuff”.

“Make sure you’ve locked it down to only allow your friends to see appropriate content,” says Mr Lyne.

Keep an eye on the third party applications that try to access your Facebook account, he adds, “and have a look at that ‘like’ setting once in a while and see if you’ve been liking pages that you didn’t expect.”

When you click that thumbs-up button and “like” a page, photo or status update, that is visible to all your friends – and to the public, if your Facebook privacy settings are set to “public”. So it is worth keeping an eye on your “like” history.

Last but not least, make sure that you are running security controls and anti-virus protections – and make sure they are up to date.