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Issue 114 - May 2011 - Page 4

Padlock on Facebook Home Page Hacker Warning Hoax

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Outline
Message circulating on Facebook warns users that if they see a "low security" alert with a padlock icon on the top right of their Facebook page, they should ignore it because answering security questions asked by the alert can give hackers access to their accounts.



Brief Analysis
The claims in the message are utter nonsense. The low security alert is a genuine Facebook security feature. Answering the questions posed by the alert are intended to increase your Facebook security and certainly will not give a hacker access to your account.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



Last updated: 7th April 2011
First published: 7th April 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
ATTENTION!!!!! IF ANY OF YOU GET A PADLOCK ON TOP RIGHT HAND CORNER OF FB HOME PAGE SAYING YOUR SECURITY IS LOW.. IGNORE.. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.. IT IS SO HACKERS CAN ACCESS YOUR ACCOUNT COPY & PASTE PLEASE!

Facebook Padlock Warning Hoax




Detailed Analysis
Facebook Security Low Alert
A rather breathless, ALL CAPS, warning message that is currently rocketing around Facebook, warns users to watch out for an alert with a padlock icon on their Facebook pages that informs them that their security is low. According to the message, answering questions asked by the security alert will give hacker's access to your Facebook account. The message asks recipients to repost the information as a warning to others.

However, the claims in the "warning" are nonsense and should not be taken seriously. Some Facebook users may have indeed noticed a "low security" alert on the right of Facebook pages. As shown in the screenshot on the right, the alert does include a padlock icon. However, this is a perfectly legitimate security feature that was introduced by Facebook in 2010. If you click on the "Increase protection" link in the alert, you will be taken to an "Update Your Security Information" page that allows you to choose options and answer questions intended to increase the security of your account.

Clicking the "Increase protection" link or answering the subsequent security questions certainly will not give hackers access to your account. In fact, the feature is intended to make it more difficult for criminals to hijack Facebook accounts.

When the security feature was first launched in late 2010, Sophos security expert Graham Cluley was critical of how it was implemented. In a December 2010 blog post, he raised concerns that the wording and method of promoting the feature could be misleading and cause unnecessary concern among users. He also questioned the effectiveness of the security measures suggested by the Facebook feature.

However, while Cluley's concerns are certainly worth considering, they do not give any validity whatsoever to the bogus warning above. Even if Facebook's implementation of the feature is somewhat flawed, using it certainly does not allow hackers to hijack your account.

Reposting such nonsense is entirely counterproductive. Sending on the warning may cause users to ignore a legitimate security enhancement thereby potentially increasing their vulnerability to attack. If you see this message, please do not repost it to others. And please let the poster know that the information in the warning is untrue.

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References
Facebook introduces 'Account Protection' security feature
Facebook scares users with account protection status warning



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Issue 114 Start Menu

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. False Warning - Do Not Add 'Jason Lee' Because Its a Virus
  2. Amber Alert Hoax - Fake '72B 381' Abduction Alert Continues To Circulate
  3. Fake Order Notification Emails Carry PDF Exploit
  4. Padlock on Facebook Home Page Hacker Warning Hoax
  5. Tsunami Deep Sea Creatures Email
  6. Hoax News Report - Japan to End Whaling
  7. Visa Card Violated Phishing Scam
  8. Facebook 'Virus' Alert - Twilight the Movie Link 'Worst Virus Ever' According to Facebook and CNN
  9. Prayer Request for Injured Soldier Tony Mullis
  10. Inaccurate Warnings Claim ALL 'bit.ly' Links Are Suspect and Should not be Clicked
  11. Facebook Non Secure Browsing Warning
  12. Facebook 'Trojan' Warning - Girl Who Killed Herself In Front Of Web Cam Video
  13. Do Circulating Photographs Show a Mass Fish Death In California Caused by the Japanese Tsunami?
  14. Facebook Rogue App Survey Scam - BBC News Check What She Did on Cam
  15. Google Promotion Award Advance Fee Scam
  16. Facebook "Your Password is Not Safe" Malware Email