I’ve noticed a “scary” message going around on Facebook lately (received from a couple people now) which states:
Please tell all the contacts in your messenger list not to accept Jayden K. Smith friendship request. He is a hacker and has the system connected to your Facebook account. If one of your contacts accepts it, you will also be hacked, so make sure that all your friends know it. Thanks. Forwarded as received. Hold your finger down on the message. At the bottom in the middle it will say forward. Hit that then click on the names of those in your list and it will send to them.
Do not forward this message.
This is just a scary spam chain-mail message that should be ignored.
Why shouldn’t I forward the message?
Facebook does not work the way the message describes. Simply adding someone as a friend cannot allow them to hack your account. Facebook would be an incredibly dangerous place to exist on if it did.
What adding people as friends can do is let them see more of your personal information such as status updates, likes and shares, photos, videos, and viewing other private information you've typed into Facebook like phone numbers, address, date of birth and family information- basically the same access any other friend on your Friends list would have.
What should I do instead?
The best thing to do is to maintain good internet security smarts and vigilance at all times:
- Never add strangers as friends on Facebook, only people you know and trust in real life. You wouldn’t just let a random stranger into your real home, so don’t do it with your digital home.
- Be smart about what information you type into websites. Know who can see the information once you’ve typed it in and clicked “Save”. Once your information is in the public domain, it's visible for the whole world to see- forever- and there’s no taking it back.
- Make sure you know what your account privacy settings are set to. Know whether things you post online are visible to the whole world, or are only visible to a certain group of people i.e. your FB friends.
- Make sure you have a good, strong password to protect your account (some handy password tips here).
- Enable two-factor authentication. If you don’t know how, talk to a trusted qualified IT professional, or google search how to enable it for a given website (i.e. Facebook supports two-factor authentication).
- Keep your devices up to date (computers, laptops, phones, iPads and tablets etc.). Make sure your device is set to run system updates and patching regularly, and disregard advice from anyone telling you to the contrary (unless they have a really, really, really, really good reason not to, and there are minutely few such good reasons...). If you don’t know how to do or check this, talk to a trusted qualified IT professional.
What is a “trusted qualified IT professional”?
This is someone who is a qualified (and preferably industry certified) IT professional that you can trust to look out for you and your privacy. A good one might cost a little bit extra $$ but will always cost less than the loss of your information and privacy to the unscrupulous type.
A good IT professional will care about your personal privacy online and will care about your computers being up-to-date and will be able to guide you in staying safe online.
If you’re still not sure how to find someone you can trust, let me know and I can help you find someone trustworthy.
Optimising the small things in life, for developers and people.