Facebook is more than just the largest social network, it is also a place where we manage our most personal connections, keep our private information and, for many, make our home on the Web.
This can make Facebook something of a security nightmare. Hackers who gain unauthorized access to your account not only have access to a great deal of private information, but they can wreak havoc with your personal life in many different ways, such as what happened when members of 4chan hacked various Facebook accounts.
Even Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, is not immune to this problem as his fan page was recently hacked and vandalized.
This raises serious questions about the security of Facebook, if Zuckerberg can’t avoid being hacked, what can the rest of us hope to do? Fortunately there are steps that we can take to make our accounts more secure .
Because, while there is no such thing as being “completely secure” we can definitely make ourselves more secure than most and that, in turn, makes us a more difficult target and one less likely to get hit.
With that in mind, here’s five quick tips to put you ahead of the pack when it comes to Facebook security.
1. Enable Secure Browsing
This one is a must if you routinely surf Facebook on open wifis such as coffee shops and public libraries.
Go into your account settings and, under account security, tick the box to enable “Secure Browsing”. This will encrypt all of your traffic to and from Facebook, ensuring that anyone who happens to be sniffing (watching) the network you are on, a common tactic on public networks, isn’t able to grab your data, including your password.
This is a good first step to keep your information safe.
2. Tighten Your Privacy Settings
Next up, go into your privacy settings and set them as restrictive as you can, limiting the bulk of your data to just your friends. You can further restrict the flow of information using lists, ensuring that not all of your friends have access to all of your data.
This is important because a lot of what people consider “hacking” is actually human engineering. People can often guess or obtain passwords and other sensitive information based no data made available.
For example, if someone is able to locate your pet’s name publicly and you used that as a security question elsewhere, someone might be able to get or reset your password to that service.
3. Be Password Smart
Not only is it important to use good, strong passwords on your Facebook account but you also have to ensure that you don’t reuse that password on other sites. For example, that’s how 4Chan was able to compromise so many Facebook accounts.
If you have a difficult time creating and remembering passwords, consider using a service like LastPass to help you generate, remember and enter truly strong passwords.
4. Enable Facebook Device Login Notifications
Under the same security settings you found “Secure Browsing”, there is also an option to send you an email or text message when a new device accesses your account.
While this may not be practical for every Facebook user, especially those who routinely login from new machines, those who have only a few computers they use regularly will likely find this to be a boon, providing early warning of any suspicious account activity.
5. Block Untrustworthy Apps
Finally, any and all applications that you aren’t using should be blocked from accessing your Facebook profile. You can always re-enable such apps later but applications are a potential security risk as you have to worry about not just the security of your account, but of these apps.
After all, if someone manages to compromise the app itself, then your account is vulnerable at least as far as the permissions you granted it will allow.
Ditch the apps you aren’t using to avoid exposing yourself to any unneeded risk.
The Bigger Question
All of these security issues with Facebook raise serious questions about how much we can trust Facebook with our data and our private information. It also raises questions about the role Facebook should play in our daily lives as a social hub and as a broadcast point.
Unfortunately, these are not easy questions to answer and everyone has to decide what the right answer is for them. But clearly these are questions that demand further scrutiny as Facebook’s presence continues to grow.
This guest post was written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for Producteev, a company that offers a to do list app.