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Facebook is a popular social networking site started in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg. It began as a social network of Harvard students to get to know each other but within months other colleges became part of it to. By the end of the following year Facebook was opened to the public and has been growing ever since and on the 21 July 2010 hit half a billion users.[1]


There are many security issues surrounding Facebook including identity theft, malware, social engineering, phishing and privacy.

Social engineering - also called no-tech hacking - is when the identity thief surfs through profiles that have relaxed security settings or gain access by friending people. They gather the personal details that the user has freely published about themselves. These details may be adequate enough for the thief to assume the users identity. However, there is another use for these details; no-tech hacking into other accounts the user might have. This was the case 2009 when a hacker called Croll managed to gain access to some of Twitter's employee accounts just by using information that was available to the public.[2]

On Facebook third party applications can access user information. Accepting an application will grant it these rights. It is important to be careful about accepting applications because they could contain malware or phishing software. The programmers of the fake Facebook dislike button took advantage of people wanting to be able to 'dislike' rather than 'like' something and put their malicious program in that. The application granted the programmer access to the user's personal profile and details.[3]

An example

Take This Lollipop” asks for access to your Facebook account in order to give you a customized video featuring a crazy-eyed, dirty-fingered man going through your Facebook profile, photos, and location information in order to hunt you down. It’s designed to prey on any Facebook privacy fears you may have, especially if you have a dirty, sweaty ex-boyfriend who resembles the guy in the video (Bill Oberst). [4] While harmless, this gives you a great insight into the sorts of data that is visible by granting an app access to your account. Try it. Take this lollipop

Resolving the Issues: Four Tips

The following tips show a few ways to be aware in an online social networking environment:[5]

  1. Understand security settings - granting everyone access to you personal information and photo is asking for trouble.
  2. Do you really have 300 friends? Don't friend just anybody, when they become a friend they can see all your information and photos and can copy any of it.
  3. Only accept applications from a trusted source.
  4. When posting consider if there is any information in the post that a malicious person could use. Good examples include location, birth date, addresses and phone numbers.


Facebook Fan Page Customization: Tips, Tricks, Applications (Betonio, 2010, December 19)[6]

Icon References.png References

  1. Gaudin, S. (2010, July 21). Facebook hits milestone: Half a billion users. Retrieved from http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9179506/Facebook_hits_milestone_Half_a_billion_users
  2. Carr, J. (2009). Inside Cyber Warfare (1st Ed). USA: O'Reilly Media.
  3. Media Newswire. (2010, August 23). Dislike the Latest Facebook Scam. Retrieved August 25, 2010, from http://media-newswire.com
  4. Hill, K (2011). Take This Lollipop And Get Your Very Own Creepy Facebook Stalker, Retrieved on 20 October 2011 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2011/10/18/take-this-lollipop-and-get-your-very-own-creepy-facebook-stalker/
  5. Gaudin, S. (2010, August 13). 5 tips to protect yourself on Facebook. Retrieved August 18, 2010, from http://www.computerworld.com/
  6. Betonio, D. (2010, December 19) Facebook Fan Page Customization: Tips, Tricks, Applications. Retrieved from http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2010/12/facebook-fan-page-customization-tips-tricks-applications.html


Carpenter, T. (2010). Facebook. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from http://www.virtualmv.com/wiki/index.php?title=Facebook