Monday, July 22

Facebook Security and Privacy Tips

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Facebook works hard to keep things as safe and secure as possible, but with so many millions of users, there are always going to be some unscrupulous people who want to cause problems for others. There are several things you can do to help to improve Facebook security, and hopefully avoid having your account hacked. Read on to learn how to use and enjoy Facebook safely, without the worry of having your personal security breached.

Choose a Strong Password

Your account password is the first line of defence against hackers and other malicious users, so it needs to be up to the task. You should never use your date of birth, names or simple combinations of the two for your password, they are just too easy to find out and abuse. You should also avoid the generic “1234567” and “password1” that a surprising number of people still use. Use a combination of at least six letters, numbers and punctuation marks, avoiding real words if possible.

If this sort of password sounds complicated and difficult to remember, just write it down and keep it somewhere safe. The old idea that we should never write our passwords down is a bit misleading. Sure, you shouldn’t write your PIN number down and keep it in your wallet or bag with your bank card, but the likelihood of someone breaking in to your house to steal your Facebook (or Twitter, or even online banking) password is not even worth worrying about.

You can change your password at any time by logging in to your account and clicking on Account Settings. You will have to enter your current password, and then your new password twice. If you think that anyone has seen or knows your password, you should change it immediately. If you have forgotten your password, you can reset it using the link on the Facebook login page.

Never Share your Password!

There have been cases recently of websites and emails offering free goodies if you provide your Facebook username and password. These are fakes! Never share your password with anyone, even people you know. Doing so is against the Facebook Terms of Service, so deals like this are never real.

Click Links with Care

Never click suspicious link, even if they come from a friend or a company you know. This includes links sent on Facebook (in a chat or post) and links sent in emails. If one of your friends clicks on spam by accident, that link might be sent to all of their Facebook friends. Remember to never re-enter your Facebook password or download something if you aren’t sure what it is.

A good example of this was Koobface. Koobface is a computer worm that targeted Facebook and other social networking websites. It spread on Facebook by posting spam messages, seemingly from your friends. These messages contained a link, which prompted you to download and install a newer version of Adobe Flash player. Instead of a new flash player, the worm was downloaded and then used your account to send yet more infected messages to your friends.

Check the URL

Scammers have been known to set up websites that contain what seem like links to Facebook. Click on those links and you will be taken to a page which looks almost identical to the Facebook login page. When you enter your login details, they are copied and stored for use by the scammer.

Always try to log in to Facebook from www.facebook.com. If you are clicking on a link to Facebook from another website, always check the URL of the page you arrive at, just in case it is a fake. If you are already logged in to Facebook in another tab or window, but a link you click takes you to a login page, be wary. If you are already logged in to Facebook in one window, you should be logged in when you view it in another.

Keep Your Browser Up To Date

Most current browsers, including Firefox, Chrome and Safari, have built in security systems, making it easier to spot fake or suspicious websites and links. Keeping your browser up to date means that you will have the latest security software in place, and you should be more likely to be warned of dodgy stuff.

Add a Security Question

A simple way to boost Facebook security is to add a security question to your account. Facebook allows you to add a security question to the login process, should you forget your password or have to contact Facebook in the event that your account is hacked. This also makes it harder for someone to obtain access to your account using the Request Password method.

To add a security question, click the arrow at the top of your profile or timeline and click Account Settings. Click Security from the left column and then Security Question. You can choose from several standard questions and then provide your own answer. You will need to confirm the change by entering your password, and then clicking Save.

Watch What You Paste

Pasting unfamiliar text into your address bar could result in events and pages being created from your account or other spammy actions. In a malicious script scam you are asked to copy and paste text into your browser’s address bar in order to see something interesting or surprising (e.g. who viewed your profile/timeline). This “code” is actually a malicious script. Instead of showing you what was advertised, it uses your account to create events and pages and send your friends spam.

Enable Login Notifications

Login Notifications will alert you if your account is logged in to from a device or location that differs from your normal ones. It is a great way to ensure that any rogue access attempts don’t go undetected.

Step 1 – Log in to your Facebook account, click the small arrow at the top of your profile or timeline and select Account Settings > Security Settings.

Step 2 – Click on Login Notifications and choose how you want to be alerted when your account is accessed (email or text message/push notification). Click Save to store your settings.

Blocking People on Facebook

There may be a time when you want to block another Facebook user. There are several reasons why you might want to do this, from unwanted messages and rude status updates, to phishing attempts or spam.

Click on the account menu at the top of your profile and select Privacy Settings. Scroll down to Blocked People and Apps and click Manage Blocking. Enter the name or email address of the person you want to block and click “Block”. People will not be notified when you block them. If you can’t find someone using this method, try going to the person’s profile (timeline) and selecting Report/Block This Person from the dropdown menu at the top of the page.

 

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About Author

Russ has been immersed in the world of technology since talking his way into a computer journalism job 25 years ago. If it is shiny, complicated and has LED's and a screen, he will want to master it.

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