Facebook is the most popular social media site on the web. No other compares. It is a giant of giants. That means it’s fertile ground for spammers and scammers, society’s dregs, low-lifes, digital scum-balls. The good news is Facebook is huge and loaded with finances so they doing a really good job at keeping the pirates at bay. See what I did there?
Most of the nefarious actions on Facebook involve spam. Spam, the meat we love to eat, isn’t the spam we’re talking about here. At this point, everyone should be familiar with the term: those sales posts that pop-up where they shouldn’t be. Unsolicited advertising is what it really is. Spam is annoying but it’s not dangerous.
Occasionally there are scams. Scams are quite dangerous. This is what criminals do to try and separate you from some of your money – or some of your personal information. Give a scammer a birth-date, an email address, and a full name, and it’s pretty likely they can start building a file on you with the intent of becoming you. Well, at least on paper.
Something Very Common That Isn’t Hacking
Maybe you have seen this: someone posing as your friend tries to friend you. They use the same name and the same profile photo. You think, “Oh, I thought we were already friends. Something must have happened. I better accept this friendship.” This is not hacking. This is spoofing. Nobody’s account is compromised even if they accept the friendship from this fake friend.
What these people are hoping to do is a narrow horizon of scams. Sometimes they want to trick a bunch of people into following them. Once that happens, they may simply bank all of those contacts (the same contacts the real friend has) until later. Then, when time has passed, they may instant message a friend and say something like, “Hi, I really hate to bother you but it’s a real emergency. I’m out shopping for (spouse/child) and I was checking out but I left my credit card at home. Can you go online and buy a gift card from http://some-scam-site-that-doesnt-really-sell-gift-cards-but-looks-like-it.com/… and buy a $50 gift card for me? Then just send me the confirmation number here. I will pay you back as soon as I get home. Thank you so much!”
Another tactic is to eventually work their way into a “big fish” pond where celebrities, athletes, or very successful business people can be found. In that scenario they find the “target” first then work backwards into friending a lot of friends of the target. This way when the target gets a friend request from someone they share dozens or hundreds of friends, they simply accept the request. Now the scum can dig through their private posts and uploads and use it for more nefarious purposes.
My Account Was Taken Over!
This is different. This is not when someone spoofs your account by creating a copy. This is when someone guesses your login. I say guesses because that’s generally what happens. If I can get your password to Facebook, I probably have your password to just about every other social media account, and your email, and your bank account, and your alarm system. This is not hacking, this is cracking. Only your account is compromised; not your friend’s accounts.
This one is easy to avoid by changing your password to something more difficult than ilovemy3kids. Or password1234. Or letmein. Or whatsmypassword.
Cyber Security is my game!