This story was first published on November 10, 2011
‘Hacker’ alert messages circulating on Facebook claim that, without your knowledge, hackers are posting insulting or sexual messages that appear to come from you onto your Facebook Timeline.
The messages are simply too vague to have any real merit as security warnings. They contain no specific information about how these supposed ‘hackers’ gain access to user accounts or how users might avoid such attacks. There is no credible information about current ‘hacker’ attacks like the one described. Reposting these vague and pointless messages will do nothing to help keep your friends safe on Facebook.
Hackers are posting SEXUAL CONTENT on your walls! You can’t see, but your friends do, then it seems as if you posted it. If you see such a post under my name, please let me know.SHARE this to Protect you and Your Friends…!!
According to several ‘hacker alert’ messages, which circulate continually via Facebook, hackers are infiltrating Facebook accounts and using them to post insulting messages or sexual content on the Facebook Walls of people’s friends. Insulting or sexual messages that these friends will think came from the owner of the hacked account. The warnings ask users to share the information on their own timelines as a means of alerting other Facebook users of this supposed hacker activity.
However, the messages are so vague that they have no real value as security warnings and reposting them will serve no useful purpose.
The warnings provide no information about how these supposed hackers go about compromising Facebook accounts. Nor do they provide any details about how people might protect themselves from said hackers, how widespread the hacker attack is, or what date the alleged nefarious activities began. Nor do they provide references that might allow people to find out this information for themselves. They do not even include so much as a single example of a hacker generated ‘insulting message’ or ‘sexual content’ post that might help users identify an attack.
Moreover, there are no credible computer security reports about a Facebook account hijacking campaign like those alluded to in the messages.
In fact, the messages seem to be nothing more than mutated versions of earlier – and equally useless – Facebook driven warnings that claimed that inappropriate videos or messages were being posted in the names of Facebook users without their knowledge.
Of course, some rogue Facebook apps, if given the necessary permissions by a user during the installation process, may automatically post spam, scam or malware messages on the user’s timeline. And, if the user inadvertently divulges Facebook login details via a phishing scam, then Internet criminals could subsequently access the compromised account and post any messages that they wanted to.
However, ‘hackers’ no matter how ‘busy’ they are on Facebook, cannot randomly access Facebook accounts and use them to send messages insulting, sexual, or otherwise. To allow such activities to take place, users must have first taken some overt action such as installing a rogue app, opening an attachment or website that harbours malware or providing personal information via a phishing scam. Thus, even if a user is not aware of the consequences of his or her actions, that user must actually DO something that opens the door for the hijacker or rogue app.
Hackers do not possess magical powers that allow them to take over Facebook accounts at will. And, your average cybercriminal is likely much more interested in getting your money or sensitive personal information than he is in sending insulting messages to your friends.
To be useful, security warnings need to be up-to-date, accurate, and contain enough detailed information to allow recipients to recognize and deal with the perceived threat should it come their way. Reposting vague and unsubstantiated security warnings like the one above will not enhance security on Facebook in any way whatsoever. These silly warnings do nothing other than to cause confusion among recipients and clutter our social networks with even more utterly pointless nonsense.