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Facebook Accounts Are Commonly Hacked By The Account Owner’s Friends And Family

Update Date: Jan 20, 2017 09:54 AM EST

Accounts for online use are typically protected from unauthorized access through passwords and other online defense and security practices. However, a recent study found that these defenses cannot prevent hacking as most Facebook accounts are commonly hacked by the friends and family of the account owner.

The researchers from the University of British Columbia examined how social insider attacks against Facebook accounts have become common and who are the most likely victim or perpetrator of these attacks. Furthermore, the researchers also examined the reason behind the attacks, how perpetrators conduct the attacks and the repercussions of social insider attacks on both the victim and perpetrator and the security implications of these actions.

The study, entitled "Characterizing Social Insider Attacks On Facebook", was divided into two parts. The first part examined the frequency of social insider attacks against Facebook accounts. The researchers conducted a list experiment format survey using Amazon's Mechanical Turk service (MTurk). A total of 1,308 U.S adult Facebook users participated in the study.

The second part of the study strived to qualitatively understand the reason behind social insider attacks and its particulars. Anonymous written stories about past experiences with social insider attacks were submitted by the participants. A total of 45 stories were collected and were further paired down to 35 stories. Participants were paid one dollar to four dollars per story and depending on how well the story is written as an incentive.

The results of the study found that 24 percent of the participants have carried out social insider attacks and that 21 percent were knowing victims. Social insider attacks particularly snooping is prevalent on among younger people. Heavy phone users who also store some information on their phones are most likely to become victims of the social insider attack.

On the other hand, people who are active on social media are least likely to become victims of social insider attacks as these people are more tech savvy and more vigilant in regards to the information they keep on their phones. In addition, as age increases, the likelihood of doing social insider attacks decreases.

The researchers found that social insider attacks are either premeditated or opportunistic. Opportunistic attacks happened due to the victim's negligence and situations that separate the victim from his or her device(s).

Premediated attacks are planned attacks where the perpetrator go to great lengths to access the victim's Facebook account like installing key-logging software just to steal the victim's password.

Fun, curiosity, jealousy, animosity, and utility motivates the perpetrators of social insider attacks. Attacks motivated by fun, curiosity, and utility is seen as of no to little consequence to the victim.

On the other hand, attacks motivated by jealousy and animosity usually lead to the severance of the relationship between the victim and perpetrator. Sometimes persons of authority are called on to fix the violation but usually, the victims deal with the problem themselves.

The study concludes that social insider attacks are a common occurrence. No security practices can prevent these attacks as most perpetrators are people close to the victim and oftentimes, the victim's own negligence enables perpetrators to do their attacks.

The researchers suggest that people should be more vigilant when it comes to their devices most especially when these devices contain sensitive information.

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