Social networking is as much a part of our everyday online lives now as using email or Internet shopping. Unfortunately, where the users go, the cybercriminals are usually not too far behind.
Because we trust platforms like Facebook and the friends we know online perhaps a little more than we should, cybercrooks have had great success stealing our personal information, infecting our computers and smartphones, deluging us with spam and tricking us into sending them money.
In September, 2011, Facebook announced that 350 million of its 800 million worldwide users at that time accessed the service via their mobile device, and this figure is only going to increase.
If you’re regularly using Facebook on a mobile device, the following advice may be useful:
- Stay alert on your mobile. It is known that people are often likely to fall for scams or click on dodgy links via their mobiles as they don’t pay as much attention to web content as when accessing it from their desktops
- Don’t access Facebook on public Wi-Fi – Why? Because hackers may be eavesdropping on your connection. Always access Facebook through the carrier network unless you are on a secured Wi-Fi network at home
- Turn on log-In notifications – This will let you know if someone else is trying to get into your account
Facebook recently launched several features to improve mobile device log-in security and the reporting of incidents.
So what about the main risks on Facebook in general?
- Malicious links – Clicking on a malicious link is the most common downfall. Links that appear to come from a “friend” on your wall, or links in inbox or chat messages are the most common culprits. They can lead to a phishing site, infect you with malware designed to take over your computer and steal your personal info, or take you to spam or other fraudulent sites. Look at the web site address of the link by dragging your cursor over it—does it begin with https—a secure URL or does the address seem suspicious?
- Spam – You may come across Groups or Pages created by spammers claiming to offer a prize or some other enticement, if you invite all your friends first. Be alert!
- Fake messages – There are fake emails or status updates and messages appearing to come from the Facebook team, or other vendor, which try to get you to update your account, divulge passwords, open an infected attachment, or click on a malicious link. Don’t do it!
How to stay safe
- Privacy Settings – The most important point to start with is making sure you visit your privacy settings and ensure all your profile information is not being displayed publically. Cybercrooks can use info like birthdays, pets’ names, and where you went to school to commit ID fraud. It’s best to err on the side of caution
- Never click on suspicious links – If something looks strange, or an offer looks too good to be true, it usually is. Ditto friend requests from people you don’t know. Use Trend Micro’s link checker
- Security from the Cloud – Invest in a security product that scans and blocks any known malicious content in the cloud. Trend Micro is offering Facebook users a 6-month complimentary copy of Trend Micro™ Titanium™ Security Essentials for Windows or Trend Micro™ Smart Surfing for Mac
- Keep informed – Take time to check out the Facebook security page to stay aware of the latest threats, and like the Fearless Web page for handy tips on how to secure your digital life
- Use caution when downloading – Don’t download any applications you aren’t certain about
- Use caution when accessing your account – Don’t access your Facebook page from a public computer and always use a strong password to do so
Tony Larks works for Trend Micro and is guest blogging for the Fearless Web. The opinions expressed here are his own.
Get more tips, advice, and alerts on Internet security, just “like” Trend Micro Fearless Web Internet Security on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fearlessweb.