Facebook will explicitly notify users it believes have been targeted by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation state, the company has announced.
Users whose accounts are targeted or compromised by state-sponsored hackers will now receive a notification upon login, warning them that “we believe your Facebook account and your other online accounts may be the target of attacks from state-sponsored actors”.
If Facebook believes that your social media account is being targeted or compromised by an attacker working for a state, it will show the following message on your desktop:
With this step, Facebook is taking the user security more seriously. Facebook security chief Alex Stamos describes the state-sponsored attacks as more advanced and dangerous than others.
The user is then prompted to turn on Facebook’s “login approvals”, a form of two-factor authorisation which texts a login code to the user when they (or anyone else) tries to access the app using their phone.
The company’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, explains that the warning is necessary because government-sponsored attacks “tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others”, necessitating active defence on the part of the target. He also emphasized that being the target of such an attack may indicate that other devices have already been compromised. “Ideally, people who see this message should take care to rebuild or replace [their computers or mobile devices] if possible.”
Stamos declined to explain how Facebook identifies attacks from nation states as opposed to conventional malicious actors, citing the need “to protect the integrity of our methods and processes”. But specialists in “advanced persistent threats”, such as large criminal enterprises and nation-states, say there are a number of tell-tale signs that can point towards such an actor.
Jason Meller, the chief security strategist at cyber security firm FireEye, said that Facebook is helped by the fact that targeted hacks often use information gleaned from the social network as part of the opening volley. “Spear phishing” attacks, which aim to entice a specific target into opening an infected attachment, clicking a malicious link, or sharing personal information, “require the attacker to learn as much as possible about the potential victim” to ensure success, Mueller said. Often, that involves harvesting information from social networks.
“If Facebook is able to detect this initial reconnaissance activity (like a sudden spike of profile views from new Facebook accounts not friendly with the target) and correlate it with other network and behavioural indicators that match an advanced attacker, then it stands to reason they can proactively warn a user with a limited degree of confidence,” Meller said.
He continued: “Facebook has built a great team of security professionals with a deep level of experience on nation-state attacks. Their vast amount of users around the globe would likely allow an adversary a wide choice of government users to target via this social media channel for access to the assets those targeted individuals have access to at their work sites.”
Facebook’s move was welcomed by digital rights organisations. Jim Killock, the head of London’s Open Rights Group, said that the move was “very welcome” for people who live under highly oppressive governments. However, Killock warned: “Facebook needs to continue to work with citizen groups in the USA and Europe to ensure that surveillance laws do not allow broad access to the databases of companies like Facebook.”
We, at addis24.com , promote the best security practices. We advise you to activate the two-step authentication methods and make your online life more secure.
Well, getting a warning from Facebook isn’t the best thing to expect, so to make your Facebook account more safe, just go to your account settings and turn on 2-step login method.