Facebook’s Hidden Dangers

As Facebook’s popularity and user base grows, Facebook puts its users at greater risk of identity theft and other crimes, and poses serious threats to its users privacy.

Joan Goodchild, senior editor of CSO (Chief Security Officer) Online says that Facebook’s 400 million users are not protected from prying eyes, scammers and unwanted marketers. She says your privacy may be at far greater risk of being violated than you know when you log into Facebook due to security gaffes or marketing efforts by the company.

Facebook has been coming under fire lately. 15 privacy and consumer protections organizations filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, charging, among other things, manipulation of privacy settings to make users’ personal information available for commercial use.

In a major security breach, some Facebook users found their private chats were accessible to everyone on their contact list, causing many to wonder just how secure Facebook really is.

Goodchild summed up Facebook’s security as not very good, highlighting five serious Facebook flaws:

• Information is being shared with third parties
• Privacy settings revert to a less safe default mode after each redesign
• Facebook ads may contain malware
• A Users real friends unknowingly make them vulnerable
• Scammers are creating fake profiles

Facebook Security Holes Found on a Regular Basis

Security holes are found in Facebook on a regular basis, so it’s not as secure as people think.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center says that internet-related crimes lost $559 million in 2009, up 110 percent from the previous year.

Users carelessly using Facebook are looking at the potential for identity theft or worse if they’re sharing information with a dangerous person they actually think is a ‘friend.’

TechCrunch found a security hole in Facebook that made it possible for users to read their friends’ private chats — without their friends even knowing about it. That flaw has since been patched, but it’s unknown how long that flaw existed.

Facebook is constantly under attack from hackers trying to spam its 400 million users, harvest their data, or run other scams.

Facebook Users Really Have No Privacy

Facebook users really don’t have much privacy on Facebook as there are all kinds of ways third parties can access information about them.

For example, when Facebook users play its games such as Farmville, or take its popular quizzes, users authorize an application to be downloaded to their profile giving information to third parties about them without their permission. Most Facebook users don’t know that.

Facebook shares information about its users with third parties through Open Graph. Open Graph shares information in a Facebook users profile with all kinds of third parties such as advertisers, so they have a better idea of the users interests and what the user is discussing, to ‘make it a more personal experience.’

It’s in Facebook’s best interest to get its users to share as much info about themselves as possible so they can share its users information with advertisers and make more money.

Every time Facebook redesigns its site — a few times a year — it resets the users privacy settings back to a default in which all the users information is made public. It’s up to the user to check the privacy settings and decide what information to share and what information not to share.

Facebook Redesigns Reset Its Users Privacy Settings

Facebook doesn’t always notify its users about the changes, or that they’re privacy settings have been set back to the default of sharing information with everyone. Facebook just notifies its users that the site has been redesigned.

Facebook friends can also make users vulnerable. If someone’s Facebook friend has a weak password or their profile is hacked, he or she can now send their friends malware.

Ads on Facebook are not always screened. As a result, a Facebook user could get an ad in their profile that has malicious code in it. Be wary of any online ads you come across.

Having too many friends on Facebook can be dangerous. A study done last year concluded that 40 percent of all Facebook profiles are fake, having been set up by bots or imposters. If a user has 500 friends, it’s likely that a percentage of those people are sharing a lot of information about that user.

Be aware of what information you put in your Facebook profile. If it’s information you don’t want to share, don’t put it online. Once it’s online, it’s virtually impossible to control. Users should pay attention to what they say and do online. It can reportedly come back to haunt you if you’re not careful.

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