Who’s in your Facebook Account? Basic security issues

Where do you access your Facebook account?  On a secure network such as your home wi-fi? Or at the local Starbucks?

Why do I ask?  It matters, that’s why. And it matters because your security could be at risk if you’re not aware of how to set your Facebook account security.

I am quite security conscious, but I wasn’t aware of all the things you need to do to ensure that someone else is not hacking into your Facebook account.  Fortunately, when I did become aware, and went into my account, I had set the right settings – but I could easily have overlooked these aas there’s no explanation on Facebook of why these settings are important or how you should use them.

That’s why I’m going to give you a quick lesson here – so that, if you’re not already secure, you soon will be.

First, why do you need to do this?

Because when you are on an insecure network – which means any public network such as the one down at your favorite Starbucks, or at the library, or the airport – you are vulnerable to hackers who run software that identifies when you log on and takes a look at what you’re doing to pretty much ‘clone’ it and gain access to the accounts you log into while you’re exposed on that network.

Which is why it’s definitely not a good idea to do your online banking at Starbucks or in the airport.  Airports, by the way, are noritious as prime hacking venues.

Because Facebook and Twitter and other social media venues are the most popular sites accessed at these types of locations, Facebook has a few settings in the Accounts section that allow you to become aware very quickly if someone else accesses your account.

Here’s how to set your Facebook Account security:

  • Open your Facebook
  • Go to the Account tab on the extreme right hand side at the top in the blue nav bar
  • Choose account settings
  • Scroll down to account security
  • select ‘change’ which is on the right
  • There will be either two or three check boxes available
  1. Browse Facebook on a secure connection whenever possible
  2. When a new computer or mobile device logs into this account
    • send me an email
    • send me a text

Don’t select the first one requiring a secure connection as this can interfere with apps you may be running on your Facebook account.  But, do select the 2nd and 3rd check box so that you are immediately notified by email and / or text message if an unknown computer or device accesses your account.  I haven’t put my mobile number into my account so I only have the option to be notified by email.

This way, if someone does hack into your account, you will be notified right away and can take action.  The first thing you do – get onto a secure network and change your password.  Then notify Facebook.  As an added precaution, don’t put anything too sensitive on your Facebook account.  I wouldn’t put a specific street address or anything that I wouldn’t be comfortable with a total stranger knowing.

While I’m on the subject – Facebook has recently introduced a ‘Places’ component and Twitter has a similar function which posts information about where you’re accessing your account from.  If you allow these functions to operate on your account, it’s easy for anyone who wants to know to follow your whereabouts and to know when you’re not at home.  Or scarier still, to be able to stalk you.  My preference is to make sure these functions are disabled.

You can access the settings for Facebook Places like this:

  • Go to the Account tab on the extreme right hand side at the top in the blue nav bar
  • Choose account settings
  • Choose ‘notifications’ in the top white nav bar
  • Scroll down to Places
  • deselect both the check boxes:
    • Tags you at a Place
    • Comments on your visits to Places

If you want to enable Facebook Places, you can control who sees this information:

  • Go to the Account tab on the extreme right hand side at the top in the blue nav bar
  • Choose privacy settings
    • under privacy settings you can set who sees your information for a variety of options from your status updates to your birthday as well as a number of other functions including Places information.

It’s a good idea to regularly review these privacy settings so that if Facebook changes their set up as they do from time to time, you are not left exposed in any way.

Bear in mind that the information I’ve provided here is important for your personal profile – you may want to make different settings for any Facebook Pages you administer.