Want to keep your privacy protected? Keep your eyes on your friends.
A study conducted by Wali Ahmed Usmani, a master’s student at University of British Columbia found that those who you trust the most are the most likely to hack their way into your Facebook account.
The study, which was conducted between from February and March of 2016, looked to find out how common attacks on privacy are, who is most likely to be victimized, who is most likely to attack, why these attacks happen, what the damage is, and how one could possibly protect themselves.
1,308 adult Facebook users, 59% male and 41% female from the United States filled out surveys that included questions asking if they had someone use a device of theirs to access their own Facebook account without their permission, and if they had ever used someone else’s device to access that person’s Facebook account without permission.
“It’s clearly a widespread practice. Facebook private messages, pictures or videos are easy targets when the account owner is already logged on and has left their computer or mobile open for viewing,” said Usmani to ubc.ca.
The survey found that 24% of the group had accessed someone’s personal Facebook account without that person’s permission, and 21% had their Facebook’s violated. Reasons for the insider attacks ranged from practical jokes to invading privacy and reading a person’s messages, or in some circumstances malicious attacks on peoples’ friends using that person’s identity, or even deleting everything off their accounts. A lot of those who told their stores reported a lasting feeling of mistrust, ruined relationships, and embarrassment.
“A sizable fraction of Facebook users seem to have been involved in instances of social insider attacks. The high prevalence of attacks demonstrates a need for effective mechanisms to detect and report these attacks to account owners,” reads the report.
There are multiple ways to protect yourself from outside attacks, such as adding an authenticator, changing passwords often, and ensuring you don’t tell anyone your information. But the inside attacks are a much different animal, the only sure defense is to log out of your Facebook after every use on your devices.
Others made sure to make sure their devices were locked after use and making sure no one know the passwords for their devices.
But having to re-enter my Facebook password every time I wanted to simply scroll through my news feed for a bit (which I do very often throughout the day) or just send a few quick messages would get very tiresome. Researchers involved with the study suggested a passive log that would show how long was spent browsing personal messages and other related information. This would help to discourage people with the possibility of getting caught.
“Jealous snoops generally plan their action and focus on personal messages, accessing the account for 15 minutes or longer and the consequences are significant: in many cases, snooping effectively ended the relationship.” said computer science professor Ivan Beschastnikh, who was a co-author of the report.