If you’re worried of the possibility of your social media accounts—such as Facebook— getting hacked, did you know that it’s the people you actually know who often access these accounts without your permission?
This is according to a new research conducted by the University of British Columbia, which used a survey of 1,308 adult users of Facebook in the U.S.
The researchers discovered that 24%, or more than one out of five individuals, had spied on the FB accounts of their family members, friends, or romantic partners, through the cellphones or computers of the victims themselves.
“It’s clearly a widespread practice. Facebook private messages, pictures or videos are easy targets when the account owner is already logged on and has left their computer or mobile open for viewing,” computer science master’s student and study author, Wali Ahmed Usmani, said in a statement.
Sometimes the snooping was simply for fun or curiosity. Otherwise it may be for darker motives, such as animosity or jealousy, the research said.
“Jealous snoops generally plan their action and focus on personal messages, accessing the account for 15 minutes or longer,” said Ivan Beschastnikh, a computer science professor and senior author on the research. “And the consequences are significant: in many cases, snooping effectively ended the relationship.”
Their findings underscored the ineffectiveness of device PINs and passwords to stop unauthorized access of social media accounts by outsiders, said Kosta Beznosov, also a senior author of the paper and computer engineering professor.
He added: “There’s no single best defense–though a combination of changing passwords regularly, logging out of your account and other security practices can definitely help.”
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada funded the research, Characterizing social insider attacks on Facebook, in collaboration with the University of Lisbon researchers. The paper will be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in May 2017.
(Photo Credit: University of British Columbia)