The problem with technology is that there are people trying to figure out how to take advantage of the people using it for every breakthrough. Facebook can’t be considered new technology, but as they upgrade servers, add compatibility with different apps and companies, it opens users up for hack attacks.
There are different types of Facebook hacks. The one that most people think of is when someone accesses their Facebook account without permission. This type of hack can be anything from a mild annoyance to something that ruins your reputation or gives the hacker access to your credit card information.
Other attacks result from a data leak, either by Facebook, one of their partners, or apps loaded with malware.
One of the biggest problems is that preventing these types of hacks is reactive. When Facebook finds out about a vulnerability in their system, it’s only because it’s already been exposed. Therefore, it seems like the hackers are always one step ahead.
However, all hope is not lost; there are some proactive steps that you can take to protect your data. The first thing you should do is get a reliable VPN. It will prevent direct attacks on your computer through public Wi-Fi or unsecured hotspots, so the hackers can’t get your password. You should also turn on Two-Factor authorization, choose a secure password, and change the password every month or two.
What Happens When Your Facebook Account is Hacked?
There are many different reasons a hacker or scammer might take over your Facebook account. If you’re lucky, it’s just a bored teen looking to have some fun. Maybe they’ll change your profile picture, post on some groups, add random friends, and do other similar actions. While this is annoying, taking back control of your account isn’t too difficult.
There are two main reasons hackers try to take over a Facebook account. The first one has nothing to do with your data since a lot of people share that publicly anyways. Rather it’s an attempt to target your Facebook friends.
These scammers create fake accounts or spoof real accounts and start friending all the original account’s contacts, with the goal of banking on the trust between friends. However, Facebook recently closed over a billion fake accounts. Therefore, the hackers are upping the ante and trying to take over real accounts. Next, they’ll contact your friends and ask them for passwords or even a loan to get through a tough time. These scams are a far cry from the “Nigerian Prince” or “kidnapped friend of a friend” scams. Your friends think these requests are coming from you, which gives it more credibility.
Business owners are also a popular target. It can be a competitor who is looking to take control of your Facebook Ads and change your ad targets and demographics, so you’ll just spend money or create offensive ads to get you banned.
Another reason could simply be to get their hands on your payment information which is stored in your Facebook account. Since Facebook is a commonly connected app with many online shopping sites, the hacker could use your account to log in to the online store and make purchases on your account.
What To Do If Your Facebook Account Was Hacked
Even if you don’t use your Facebook account, you have to react quickly if you receive a notification that your account was hacked. Since you don’t know the hackers’ motives, they can be trying to use your connections, names, or just the anonymity of a stolen account for their business.
Confirm you were hacked: Facebook will send you a notification when there is a login attempt from an unrecognized device. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you were hacked. I’ve gotten these notifications when I leave my VPN on, making it appear like I’m logging in from a different country.If you see pictures, comments r posts that you didn’t write, it’s possible that you left your phone unattended or didn’t log off your computer and someone close to you decided to have a little phone at your expense.If this is the case, you weren’t really hacked. Make sure to log out of your Facebook account and maybe add a screen lock to prevent your friends or co-workers from taking your phone and having a little fun.To check whether the hack was real, try and log in to your account. If your password was changed, you’ve most like hacked, and you’ll need to follow these steps to recover your account. If you can still log in, go to the Facebook Settings and Security, and check the devices that have accessed your account. This information also includes dates and times so that you can confirm together it was your phone that you left on the table at work or whether someone managed to access your account on their own.
If you see any suspicious activity, you can click on the Log Out of All Session buttons, and it will automatically disconnect your Facebook account from all the connected devices.
Lastly, change your password. If you use the same or similar passwords on another account, you should change those as well.
Check your connected accounts and apps: One of the ways that hackers have gained access to Facebook accounts is through third-party apps that are connected to Facebook accounts.If you’re still in the Settings menu, open the Apps and Websites option. You’ll see all the apps and websites that are connected to your account. If you see any that you don’t recognize, you should remove them right away. These connected apps or websites could have been added by the hackers or act as the gateway to your account.You should also remove any old apps, even if they say expired. The reason is that since the developers aren’t updating those apps anymore, odds are, they aren’t updated security patches.When I looked at the connected apps, I found a whole bunch of apps that I hadn’t used in over a decade. But Facebook is still sharing some of my data with these companies. This data is maintained on outdated servers and would be easy for hackers to get their hands on.
Deleting them won’t erase any data that the company has on you, but it will cut the connection between the two accounts.
If you see apps that were added recently, look through your timeline to see if it posted anything on your behalf and delete it. The post may be a phishing link that is targeting your friends.
Let your friends know: In most cases, the account that is hacked isn’t the hacker’s target. They just want to use your credibility to connect with their friends and try and take advantage of the relationship.Therefore, it’s crucial that you let your friends know that you were hacked and that they can ignore any messages, posts, links, etc., that the hacker posted. If the hacker locked you out of your account, ask a friend to post on your behalf and tag yourself so that your contacts will see it.Even if you were the target, it’s a good idea to make a public post that you were hacked. This way, if the hacker created offensive posts or added you to groups that you don’t wish to be associated with, you’ll let everyone know that you weren’t in control of the account.
Cancel your credit card: This is important if you have a Facebook Ads account, and the hackers can start charging things to your account. If you can still log in to your account, go to the Ad Center and remove all your payment methods.
If you’re locked out of your account, contact your bank or credit card company right away.
Let Facebook know and change your security settings: Facebook has a dedicated page for letting them know if your account has been hacked. You’ll have to fill out a form and state why you think the account was hacked. Since there are different types of hacks, Facebook asks you to say why you believe your account was hacked. The reasons are:
There are posts or messages on your time or in Messenger that you didn’t write
The privacy settings have been changed, marking your private information and posts pubic.
You found or were alerted to a duplicate account that uses your picture and connected to your friends
Once Facebook has this information, it can start to act and block the hacker.
How to Recover a Hacked Facebook Account
Once you’ve discovered that your Facebook account has been hacked, you will want to back control of the account as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, it’s not such an easy process.
Facebook has a lengthy process where users have to prove their identity several times before they can block the hacker from the account. The logic behind the process is pretty simple; the tools that Facebook can give you to recover your account can just be exploited again by the hackers.
According to Nathaniel Gleicher, the Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, “Any system that we build to help users get their accounts back, we also have to recognize that it becomes a threat vector for threat actors to exploit.”
The first step is to contact Facebook and let them know your account has been taken over.
Go to facebook.com/logn/identify/. It’s best if you can use the computer/smartphone/tablet that you usually use when going to Facebook and your home Wi-Fi network. Enter your phone number or the email address associated with the account.
Send a recovery code to your email or phone number. If you no longer have the same phone that you did when you set up the account and are afraid that the hacker can see your emails, click the “No Longer Have Access to These” link, and then on the next page, choose the Cannot Access My Email button.
Sometimes Facebook lets you reset your email, and it will send a new password to that email account. If not, go to facebook.com/hacked and click the My Account is Compromised button.
Enter the phone number or email address connected with the account. It will locate your account and ask you to enter an old password to log in.
Once you’re logged in, you can reset the email address associated with the account, But first, you will have to send a valid photo ID to Facebook; it must be a high-quality picture with all four corners clearly visible. Once Facebook verifies your identity, it will send an email to the new account so you can reset your password.
This can be a real problem if you use a fake name or fake birthdate o your account. While it’s still possible to recover these types of accounts, you will need talk with an actual person at Facebook, which isn’t easy, and the process can be long and frustrating.
Now that you’ve changed the account email address and password, you have one last hurdle to pass before you can get into your account. It’s possible that the hacker set up two-factor authorization with the SMS going to their phone number.
Once again, you’ll need to contact Facebook, resend your ID, and they’ll send you a code or a link that will disable the two-factor login authorization.
Now that you’ve successfully gotten back your account, you have to take some preventative steps to secure your account.
Before posting a new status, letting everyone knows you’ve taken back your account, go to the Settings & Privacy section. Open > Settings > General > Contact and confirm the email address and phone number listed is yours and not the hackers.
While you’re still in the Settings & Privacy section, click on the Security and Login section from the menu on the left0hand side. Scroll down until you see the Two-Factor Authorization and confirm that it’s your phone number and not the hackers. Next, check out the list of Authorized Logins and delete any device that you don’t recognize.
Then, open the Setting Up Extra Security section and turn on notifications for logins from unrecognized devices. This will give you a heads up if someone s trying to hack your Facebook again.
Lastly, you can select up to five friends or family that you trust, and in case this happens again, Facebook will send them the account recovery instructions.
8 Ways to Prevent a Facebook Hack
Depending on how you use your Facebook, a hack can range from an annoyance that you’re missing out on funny GIFs, friend updates, and groups to devastation as the hackers take over your Facebook Ads account or publish posts that ruin your reputation.
Hackers have several different ways of getting into your Facebook account. However, there are some things that you can do to prevent Facebook hacks.
Use Private browsing on all public computers: When you log in to Facebook, you will usually see a notification from the browser asking if you want it to save your password. Instinctively, many people just click Yes, since it makes life easier and that’s what they do at home. The problem is that now anyone can easily access your Facebook account. To prevent this from happening, you should always use Private or Incognito mode, which never stores any user data.
Use Two–Factor Authorization: I know a lot of people who don’t use two-factor authorization because it’s annoying. And I agree, it’s annoying to check for an SMS or email for a 6dgit code when I want to login to my computer, but you know what else is annoying? Having to recover a blocked Facebook account. In the Facebook security settings, you can choose to exclude your main devices from two-factor authorization, which should make it a little less of an annoyance.
Beware of what information you share on Facebook: I’m surprised that there are still people who share everything on Facebook. I’m not even talking about memes that are really poorly disguised phishing attempts that people give away potential security question answers. People make their birthdays, phone numbers, children’s names, cities, pets, etc., on their social networks. Hackers can take that information and guess your email or Facebook passwords.
Clean your browser: The amount of personal data stored on your browser is staggering, making it a prime target for hackers. There is no shortage of phishing attacks and viruses that are designed to extract this information from browsers. The best defense is to try not to save your personal information on a browser, especially if it’s like Chrome and can be logged in on multiple devices. Get a Password Manager to store passwords ad payment information and keep your browser as clean as possible.
Don’t Use the Remember Password option: In an effort to make it easier for people to stay logged on Facebook account, Facebook has a Remember Password option. The problem is that it’s not just convenient for you, but for anyone using the same computer. Your
Beware of Phishing attempts: It should go without saying in 2021, but surprisingly people are still clicking of spammy or fake links, giving hackers and scammers their Facebook login information. If you do click on a link and get redirected to page that looks like Facebook, check the URL. If it’s a fake site, the URL will have extra characters in it.
Activate the Code Generator on mobile devices: The Facebook Android and iOS apps have a code generator feature in the Security and Privacy settings. It’s basically another type of two-factor authorization. When you open the Code Generator feature, it will create a security code that will need to use when logging in on a new browser. The advantage of the code generator over the standard two-factor verification is that a hacker can get into your account and change the verification phone number. With the code generator, the security code can only be found on your phone.
Get a VPN: A VPN is an important security tool, usually associated with anonymizing your online activities of accessing geo-blocked content. What you might not know is that it’s also an excellent defense against hackers, because it encrypts your connection. This is extra valuable when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi, and would otherwise be vulnerable to Man in the Middle attacks, sidejacking, DNS Spoofing, and other types of attacks (more on this in the next section)
10 Ways Your Facebook Account Can Get Hacked and How to Prevent It
If it seems like hackers are always one step ahead, it’s because they usually are. Most updates or ways to block a hacker are defensive and created after a hack attack. With that being said, here are ten ways that hackers have taken control of a Facebook account and how you can make sure that it doesn’t happen to you.
KeyLogging: To put it simply, keylogging is a type of software that records everything that is typed on your device. The data is uploaded to a server, and the hacker now has your username and password.It would be best if you had good antivirus software that will run scheduled deep scans of your system, including your USB drives, to ensure that no one attempted to upload the keylogger to your computer. Another popular way for hackers to install a keylogger is through software downloads. Again, an antivirus will help prevent malicious files from installing malware, including keyloggers.
Phishing attacks: There are several different types of phishing attacks, and they’re pretty common. The basic idea is to trick someone into giving over their username and password. Some hackers have designed a website that looks identical to Facebook and then send a link to their targets, hoping they don’t notice and attempt to log in.Another common method is to create a duplicate Facebook account from a registered user and contacting their contacts. This is less likely to work, as the friends have to share personal information., But it’s good to be aware of what’s out there.There are a few ways to prevent yourself from falling for a phishing attack:
Check the website URL to make sure it’s the official Facebook website
Don’t click on Facebook links or pictures in random emails
Don’t log in to your Facebook on a new device where the browser is already open. If you’re using a different device, open the Incognito or Private mode, so your account information isn’t stored.
Session Hijacking: Whenever you log into your Facebook account, a server will store the information for user authentication purposes. If you connect while on a public Wi-Fi network, a hacker can hijack that server session and access the cookie file to access the account.The best way to prevent this from happening is to avoid using Facebook on an unsecured Wi-Fi network. If this isn’t possible, get a good VPN, like CyberGhost, that encrypts your connection on public Wi-Fi and block session hijacking attempts.Additionally, you must clean your cookies and cache every couple of days.
Access to your Saved Passwords: Most major web browsers offer to save your passwords and offer auto form fill-ins. While this seems convenient, if a hacker can access your browser, they’ll have all your login information. There are a few different ways a hacker can access this information. The easiest is if you leave your computer open in a public area and someone simply opens your browser settings and copies the data. A more sophisticated attack, which also requires physical access to the computer, is inserting a USB stick with a program designed to extract this data.The easiest way to avoid this is never to leave your computer unattended. It can also be prevented by not using the web browser password manager. You can use an encrypted secure password manager instead.
Sidejacking: This is one of the more popular hacking methods used to steal Facebook usernames and passwords. For Sidejacking to work, you have to be on the same Wi-Fi network as the hacker, where they send a packet that steals cookies and reads the data.The best way to avoid Sidejacking is to avoid using Facebook or any other site that requires a password on public Wi-Fi. Since that’s not always possible, using a VPN will secure your connection with military-grade encryption.
DNS Spoofing: If a hacker is on the same network as their target, they can replace the website the target is looking at with a fake page. When the target types a username and password, the hacker can use it to access the account.You can avoid DNS Spoofing by paying attention to what websites you’re logging on to. You can check if there is a padlock on the URL bar, which tells you that the site is secure and it’s the real site. Pay attention to the site design, if it’s using the wrong color or maybe the hackers forgot to update their fake Facebook page, or it has spelling mistakes.
Social Engineering: This is a basic method of hacking that doesn’t require a technical wizard. Rather, the hacker collects as much personal information on the target as possible, including friends’ names, city of birth, old addresses, pets’ names, and anything else that can help them guess the target’s password. Even if they can’t figure out your password, often this information can be used to recover forgotten passwords.The best way to avoid this is to avoid sharing any personal details with people you don’t know. Don’t answer popular Facebook memes with questions like “I bet you can’t your first address” or “Who is still in touch with their first best friend.”
Man in the Middle Attacks (MITM): Here, we have another type of hack where the hacker and target have t be on the same network. The hacker will intercept the server connection between the target and the website. The hacker is now between the target and the intended server and can see the data that’s being transferred and even make changes.There are several online security tools that can help prevent Man in the Middle attacks. A VPN will reroute your online traffic to a secure and encrypted server, blocking the hacker from seeing your data. Another option is an antivirus software with a powerful firewall that will secure your connection.
USB Hacking: An old-school hacking method that requires physical access to the target’s computer or laptop. The hacker simply inserts a USB drive that uploads a malicious code or malware that can find the private data on the computer, including usernames and passwords.There are two ways to prevent this; don’t leave your computer unattended or get a program that blocks installation from unrecognized devices.
Email Hacking: If a hacker can get into the email address that is used for the target’s Facebook account, they can simply click the Forgot Password link, and the reset password instructions will be sent to the email. The hacker can then take over the Facebook account.You should secure your email and Facebook accounts with two-factor authorization to prevent this from happening. This way the password can’t be changed without you receiving an SMS. Additionally, never share your personal information and passwords with anyone, and beware of fake websites posing as your email client, so they can see your password.
The Largest Facebook Hacks
Not all Facebook hacks target individual accounts. There have been several reports of large-scale hacking, that target the Facebook servers. In these attacks, the hackers can get personal identifying information from millions of users.
There is an unsubstantiated rumor of a hack that has data from 1.5 billion Facebook accounts. The hacker wrote a post on a forum offering to sell the data. One user commented they tried to pay and never received anything and claimed it’s a scam. The hacker insists it’s real and is willing to prove it, but as of publishing this post, no proof has been offered.
The largest confirmed Facebook hack to date was discovered in April 2021 when someone uploaded data of over 533 million Facebook users on a hacking forum. The user accounts came from over 100 countries, with the US (32 million accounts), UK (11 million accounts), and India (6 million accounts) being the hardest hit.
The data included:
Cities lived in
Facebook (now Meta) claims that this hack was actually from 2019 as the company was patching a vulnerability that allowed a bot to collect similar data on over 50 million accounts. That hack exploited a weakness in the “View As” function that lets people see how others view their user profile.
One of the most well known results of Facebook hacking is the Cambridge Analytica scandal that was revealed in 2018. The political research company was able to exploit a third party application that was logged into Facebook. Cambridge Analytica released an app that used this Facebook Login, which was used by over 270,000 people. What they might not have realized is that when they accepted the permissions needed to install the app, it said they were giving permission for the app to see their data and their friend’s data. This is how Cambridge Analytica got personal information from over 50 million users. It then used that data to create an advanced political campaign for former US President Donald Trump, as well as elections that were held in the UK, Australia, India, Mexico, Malta, and Kenya.
What Hackers Can Do With This Data?
If someone is willing to pay for this data, you can be certain they are going to try and benefit from it. Some of the common scams they can run with the data are as follows:
Phishing: With all the available data, including email addresses, birthdates, and phone numbers, the hacked accounts are ripe for phishing scams. The hacker can use the information to send convincing emails, pretending to be a well-known company, with links that can ultimately be used to install malware, or steal passwords. A scammer can also use the data to target the account holder’s friends and contacts since they have enough personal information to be convincing.
Physical attacks: With enough data, including geo-tagged pictures and your hometown listed, a scammer can stalk people, having just enough personal information to gain their trust.
Account Takeover: Most passwords are fairly common words with an addition of a birthday or anniversary at the end. Hackers can enter all this data in their password-cracking software and increase their odds of logging into your Facebook and other accounts.
While these are common scams and frauds, it’s not a complete list and cybercriminals are always thinking of new ways to take advantage of their targets.
What Should You Do If Your Data Was Leaked?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to go back in time and secure the data. Once it’s been released, it’s available on these hacker forums and the Dark Web.
Therefore, you have to be extra vigilant when communicating with people online. Be extra wary when you receive a phone call from someone who claims to know you, and as always, never click on links that are sent to your email.
While it’s always a good idea to change your password every couple of months, if your data was compromised, you should change as many passwords as you can immediately. This is especially true if you have the same username and password for multiple sites.
How do I Know if my Data was Hacked?
There are some online security tools that can help protect you from online scams. Antivirus and antimalware software will help keep your system clean, should you click on a malicious link.
A VPN is also a good option, especially one like NordVPN that recently updated its features to include a Dark Web Monitor. This tool will crawl through the Dark Web looking for any of your personal information or account data and send you an alert.
The Firefox browser has a monitoring tool that searches for data leaks based on your email address. It then reports all the different leaks or hacks where your email address was found, so you can take the proper action.
Another helpful tool is the “Have I Been Pwned” website, which lets you search to see if your phone number, email address, or password have been compromised in hacks or data leaks.
Apps with over 5 Million Installations Hack Facebook Users
After downloading an Android app, do you really ever think twice before connecting it with your Facebook account? People have become so accustomed to logging in to social media with apps, it’s become second nature for many of us.
Unfortunately, many app developers know this and use it to take advantage of unsuspecting users.
In July 2021, the Dr. Webb antivirus uncovered 10 apps with a combined 5,8 million installations that require users to login to Facebook to get free access to all its features and remove all the ads from the app. They found that these apps included malware that stole Facebook usernames and passwords.
Dr. Webb informed Google of its finding and the apps were removed from the Play Store, although the apps weren’t automatically deleted from the target’s phone.
The 10 apps are:
Approximate Number of Downloads
App Lock Keep
App Lock Manager
The final app was called EditorPhotoPip, but it was removed from the Play store prior to the Dr. Webb report and so we don’t have all the download and developer data.
All these apps worked in a similar fashion.
They were legitimate looking apps that did exactly they promised, whether that was photo editing, astrology reading, or fitness programs. They were full of ads, and so naturally, users would log in to Facebook to disable the ads. The Facebook page was real, but the Trojan malware from the app would steal the credentials and relay them back to the hackers.
If you downloaded any of these apps, you should delete them immediately, because, in addition to Facebook, the Trojan can also steal passwords from other websites that you visit,
What is really scary is that these apps were all available on the official Google Play store, and as we can see from the Pip Photos app that had over 5 million downloads, they can go viral.
The moral of the story is don’t trust any apps, always read user reviews, don’t give permission for apps to access your account, or use them to log in to your Facebook account, and change your Facebook (and other) passwords frequently.
Beware Some Memes can lead directly to Facebook Hacks
Memes are one of the most entertaining and popular aspects of Facebook. While many memes are harmless and funny, some are posted with malicious attempts. Even those that seem harmless, and you know the original poster, the information is given can be used against you,
There are several different types of memes or viral content that you should think twice before adding your answers,
What Kind of (Fill in the Blank) are you? I’ve seen everything from Disney princess or Game of Throne characters to what quizzes that even the biggest Friends, Seinfeld, Sopranos, or another popular show fab can’t get all the answers correctly. When you click through to the quiz, to prove what kind of character or that you’re the biggest fan, you’re still OK. The problem is when you give the quiz site permission to post the results on your timeline.The hackers will save your data and begin compiling a database for each of their potential targets.
Viral posts: If you’ve been Facebook in the past decade, you’ve surely seen viral posts like, “Nostalgia Quizzes”, “25 Random Facts You Don’t Know About Me”, “My First Job”, “My first pet”, or “Bet you don’t still talk with your first best friend.” I don’t know who starts these posts, or whether they even have malicious intent.
The truth is that it doesn’t really matter what the intention is because you’re giving away the answers to account security questions. This data is also entered into the database, creating an even clearer picture for the hackers to organize a “brute force” attack, using the data to access your accounts.
Seemingly simple questions: I’ve seen memes that have math questions to some with statements like “No name starts with A and ends with A, prove me wrong.”
I’m always shocked when these posts have millions of responses. It took me a while to figure out the scam, but it goes along with the first two types of scams. Unless you adjust your Facebook privacy settings, the posters will get the basic information on anyone who comments and their friends. This data is also added to the “brute force” database.
It’s best to ignore these types of viral memes, but sometimes the urge to answer outweighs common sense. Therefore, you should take these basic steps to make it harder for the bad guys to hack your Facebook and other accounts.
Change your privacy settings: Don’t leave your personal details out there for everybody. If you need to post your birthday, hometown, job, and your anniversary, you should only make it available to friends. Make sure that your information isn’t available to friends of friends, posts your friends make comments on, or public.
Wherever possible turn on multi-factor authorization to protect your account. This way, even if the scammers guess your password, they’ll still need your phone or email to enter the PIN code to access the account.
Change your password frequently, and avoid using your name, birthday, kid’s name, anniversary, or things like password and 123456789.
It’s impossible to prevent your Facebook account from getting hacked, but that doesn’t mean you should make it easy for the hackers. Whether your account gets scraped by a vulnerability in a third party app, a leak on the Facebook servers, or your own negligence, you have to be prepared.
Facebook hacks can be anything from a mild annoyance to a process that lasts for several months and can cause financial and personal damage.
Take the proper precautions to protect your privacy:
Don’t share your personal information
Turn on two-factor authorization
Use a VPN to encrypt your connection and prevent different types of hacking through Wi-Fi networks
Use a secure password and change it every two months
If you think your Facebook account has been hacked, notify Facebook immediately, so they can start the process of removing the hacker and securing your account.