In a shocking study, researchers in Canada have revealed that it is people who we know who are secretly accessing our Facebook accounts and this practice is more widespread than commonly believed.
Researchers at University of British Columbia surveyed 1,308 U.S. adult Facebook users and found that 24 per cent – or more than one in five – had snooped on the Facebook accounts of their near and dear ones including friends. Using thematic analysis, we typified attacks around five motivations (fun, curiosity, jealousy, animosity, and utility), and explored dimensions associated with each type. Researchers point out that combined findings indicate that social insider attacks are common, often have serious emotional consequences, and have no simple mitigation.
Authors notes that while people are concerned about hackers accessing their Facebook accounts, it is people you know who pose a risk as well. Researchers found that people had accessed Facebook accounts of family members, romantic partners, or even friends using the victims’ own computers or cellphones. Some of the most targeted things on Facebook at private message, pictures and even videos that can be accessed when the account owner has logged in and has left their computer or mobile open for viewing.
Many survey respondent said that they accessed private stuff of their friends, family or romantic partners because of simple curiosity or fun, but there were those who said that they did it out of jealousy.
Those doing out of fun said that they set their victim’s status or profile picture to something humorous. Those who did it out of jealousy or animosity focused on personal messages.
The findings highlight the ineffectiveness of passwords and device PINs in stopping unauthorized access by insiders, added electrical and computer engineering professor Kosta Beznosov, the paper’s other senior author.
“We found that these attacks target a variety of victim information, have a broad range of motives, are redominantly opportunistic, and at times have severe emotional consequences for victims”, researchers note in the conclusion of their paper. “An implication of our analysis is that the existing device and Facebook account security measures appear to be ineffective in countering the social insider threat.”