7 Security Risks That Come With Using Facebook

facebook, mouse cursor, social network, security risks, privacy concerns, Facebook security risks

Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, with roughly 3 billion monthly active users as of 2023. However, using Facebook also comes with some security risks that you should be aware of.

Data breaches

Facebook has had a history of data breaches, which have resulted in the exposure of personal information of millions of users to hackers and cybercriminals.

In April 2021, it was revealed that the phone numbers and other data of 533 million users were posted on a hacking forum. This data can be used for identity theft, phishing, spamming, and other malicious purposes.

In addition to this, Facebook has faced several other data breaches in the past. In 2018, the company faced a massive data leak that compromised the personal information of 50 million users. Apparently, the data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that used it to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

In 2019, Facebook admitted to storing millions of user passwords in plain text format. In the same year, it was reported that over 540 million Facebook user records were exposed on Amazon’s cloud computing service.

These data breaches have raised concerns about Facebook’s ability to protect its users’ personal information. The company has been criticized for its lack of transparency and accountability in handling user data.

It has also faced legal action from users whose data was compromised in these breaches.

It is important for Facebook users to be aware of these data breaches and take necessary precautions to protect their personal information. Users can enable two-factor authentication, use strong passwords, and avoid sharing sensitive information on the platform.

Impersonation

Impersonation is a serious security risk that comes with using Facebook. Cybercriminals can use your shared or leaked data to create fake profiles and impersonate you or someone you know.

Once they have access to your personal information, they can use it to compromise your social, public, and work-life.

Our research team has on various occasions encountered accounts impersonating public figures and politicians. For example, several fake Facebook accounts have been opened in the name of Kenya’s First Lady—H.E. Rachael Ruto. These accounts are mostly created with the intention of defrauding unsuspecting users.

Facebook has a policy against impersonation and fake profiles. If you come across a profile or page that’s pretending to be you or someone else, you can report it to Facebook. You can also report potentially impersonating profiles or pages to Facebook even if you don’t have a Facebook account.

To report a fake profile on Facebook, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the fake profile. If you can’t find it, try searching for the name used on the profile or asking your friends if they can send you a link to it.
  2. Click under the cover photo and select Find Support or Report Profile.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions for fake profiles to file a report.

To protect yourself from impersonation, it’s important to be cautious about the information you share on Facebook. Avoid sharing sensitive information such as your phone number, email address, home address, or financial information on the platform.

Online Scams

Online scams are a growing concern for Facebook users worldwide. As a global platform, Facebook has become a prime target for scammers who seek to exploit unsuspecting users. Scammers use various tactics to trick people into giving away money or sensitive information.

For instance, they may create fake accounts pretending to be someone they are not or compromise existing social media accounts to deceive or defraud users or their friends out of money, personal information, or access to their accounts.

Most common types of online scams

Lottery scams:

Scammers contact you claiming that you have won a lottery or prize and ask you to pay fees or taxes upfront before receiving the prize. Be warned about the following scams:

  1. Becky Foundation Promotion (Becky Foundation Citizen TV)
  2. Maria Foundation
  3. Sultana Promotion
  4. Jabali Foundation Promotion
A screengrab of Becky Foundation Promotion Scam, Facebook
A SCREENGRAB OF BECKY FOUNDATION PROMTION SCAM. DON’T FALL FOR SCAMS | FACEBOOK

Investment scams:

Scammers offer fake investment opportunities that promise high returns with little risk. They may use fake websites, social media accounts, or email addresses to lure victims into investing money. Don’t fall for bitcoin cloud mining scams, forex, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, etc.

How to avoid online scams

  • Slow down: Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency or threaten you with losing your account or other action. Take time to ask questions and think it through.
  • Spot check: Scammers often mention a problem to encourage you to act. Do your research to double-check the details before clicking links or downloading files.
  • Don’t send: Scammers often pretend to be from a familiar organization, they may use its employee photo they stole from the internet to convince you. No reputable organization will demand payment on the spot.
  • Facebook also removes content that purposefully deceives, willfully misrepresents, or otherwise defrauds or exploits people for money or property. If you see something on Facebook that you think is a scam, please report it to Facebook immediately.

Other online scams include:

Phishing scams:

Cybercriminals send you an email appearing to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank, social networking site, or online store. You get tricked into clicking on a malicious download or a scammer website link. The cybercriminal installs malware and/or uses your stolen credentials to steal your sensitive data.

Romance scams:

Scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and social media platforms to build relationships with people and then ask for money or gifts.

Ransomware:

A cybercriminal may infect your computer with malware called ransomware, if, for example, they are successful with phishing scams. Once installed, the cyberthief could encrypt your files and demand a ransom payment, typically in a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.

Fake online stores:

Scammers create fake online stores that look like legitimate ones to trick you into buying counterfeit goods or products that don’t exist.

Tech support scams:

Scammers pretend to be tech support representatives from well-known companies and contact you to offer help with computer problems. They may ask you to download software that gives them access to your computer or request payment for their services.

Stalking

Facebook’s location tracking feature can be used to stalk users, which is a serious privacy concern.

In August 2022, Meta Platforms Inc, the parent company of Facebook, reached a $37.5 million settlement in a lawsuit that accused it of violating users’ privacy by tracking their movements through their smartphones without permission.

The lawsuit claimed that Facebook violated California law and its own privacy policy by gathering data from users who turned off Location Services on their mobile devices.

The users said that while they did not want to share their locations with Facebook, the company nevertheless inferred where they were from their IP (internet protocol) addresses and used that information to send them targeted advertising.

To prevent Facebook from tracking your location, you can disable location tracking for the Facebook app. On an iPhone or iPad, launch the Settings app and navigate to Privacy > Location Services > Facebook > Never. Alternatively, you can turn off your phone’s location services entirely to prevent all apps from using your location.

Read more about cyberstalking HERE.

Insecure Third Party Apps and Websites

Facebook allows users to connect their accounts to various third-party apps, such as games, quizzes, and surveys. However, some of these apps may misuse your data or expose it to unauthorized parties.

For instance, researchers have found links between third-party apps on Facebook and ransomware, unwanted targeted advertising, spam, and more.

To protect your data, you should review and remove any apps that you don’t use or trust from your Facebook settings.

To review and remove third-party apps from your Facebook account, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Facebook app or website and log in to your account.
  2. Click on the down arrow in the top right corner of the screen and select “Settings & Privacy” from the dropdown menu.
  3. Click on “Settings” from the expanded menu.
  4. In the left-hand column, click on “Apps and Websites”.
  5. Here you will see a list of all the apps and websites that are connected to your Facebook account.
  6. To remove an app or website, click on the checkbox next to it and then click on “Remove”.
  7. You will be asked to confirm that you want to remove the app or website. Click on “Remove” again to confirm.
Facebook screengrab, settings and privacy, third party apps and websites
FACEBOOK SCREENGRAB

It is important to regularly review your connected apps and websites to ensure that they are not misusing your data or exposing it to unauthorized parties.

Malicious Software

Malicious software, or malware, is any program that can harm your computer or device. Malware can infect your device through various means, such as downloading attachments, clicking on links, or visiting malicious websites.

On Facebook, malware can also spread through infected apps, posts, or messages.

Malware can damage your device, steal your data, spy on your activities, or take over your account.

To prevent malware infections, you should use a reputable antivirus software and update it regularly. Antivirus software can detect and remove malware from your device before it causes any damage. It can also protect you from phishing attacks and other online threats.

You should also keep your operating system and other software up to date with the latest security patches to prevent vulnerabilities that malware can exploit .

In addition to using antivirus software and updating your system regularly, you should also be cautious when downloading attachments, clicking on links, or visiting websites that you are not familiar with.

Privacy Concerns

Facebook gives users some control over their privacy settings, which determine who can see their posts, profile information, photos, friends list, and more.

However, many users may not be aware of these settings or how to use them properly. As a result, they may share more than they intend to or expose their data to unwanted audiences.

To protect your privacy on Facebook, you should review and adjust your privacy settings regularly. You can also use features like audience network or off-Facebook activity to limit how Facebook tracks you across the web.

To review and adjust your privacy settings on Facebook, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the down arrow in the top right corner of the screen and select “Settings & Privacy” from the dropdown menu.
  2. Click on “Settings” from the expanded menu.
  3. In the left-hand column, click on “Privacy”.
  4. Here you will see a list of options that allow you to control who can see your posts, profile information, and more.
  5. You can also use features like audience network or off-Facebook activity to limit how Facebook tracks you across the web.
Facebook privacy settings screengrab, security risks, privacy concerns
A SCREENGRAB OF FACEBOOK PRIVACY SETTINGS | FACEBOOK

It is important to regularly review and adjust your privacy settings on Facebook to ensure that you are sharing only what you want with whom you want.

Final Thoughts

In addition to the above privacy and security concerns, Facebook can be addictive for some users who spend too much time on the platform.

Addiction can have negative effects on your mental health, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, or low self-esteem. Addiction can also interfere with your productivity, relationships, sleep quality, and physical health.

To overcome addiction, you should limit your usage of Facebook and take breaks regularly. You can also use tools like screen time limits or app blockers to help you control your habits.

It is important to take precautions when using Facebook to protect your personal information and sensitive data. You can do this by regularly updating your privacy settings, avoiding suspicious links and third-party apps, and being cautious about what you share online.


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