How To Find Out If Your Facebook Account Has Been Hacked

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facebook security flawsYou could say that Facebook’s having a little bit of PR trouble lately.

You could, but it’ll be a dramatic understatement.

Privacy settings are changing rapidly, and many users are confused. There’s a lot you can do to protect yourself, of course; check out Mahendra’s piece entitled “10 Solid Tips to Safeguard Your Facebook Privacy” for more information on potential Facebook security flaws.

Privacy’s not the sole concern, however; there are security risks as well. Recently, millions of stolen Facebook accounts were stolen and sold. You can protect yourself from such Facebook security flaws by regularly changing your password, and Tina wrote a piece all about picking a good password that you will not forget; be sure to check that out for good password ideas.


There’s now more you can do to protect your Facebook profile. A recent post over at Facebook’s blog explains a new security function that’ll point out when your Facebook account has been hacked and being accessed from an unfamiliar computer. It will then email you, explaining the computer your account was logged in from. This is a great way to ensure only you and you alone are logging into your Facebook account, so check it out.

Getting Started

Head over to Facebook and log in, assuming you haven’t already logged in. Click the “Account” button in the top-right corner, then click “Account Settings” to get the preferences page we’re looking for. You’ll notice a new addition: “Account Security.” It’ll look like this:

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how to find out if your facebook has been hacked

To enable this feature, click “Yes” followed by “Submit.” You’ve now turned on Facebook’s new account security settings.

How it Works

I’ve got an old iMac in my lab right now; I set it up for Boulder Community Computers and am now making use of it until it’s sold. I’ve never logged into Facebook using this iMac, so I thought this would be a great way to test how the new feature works. I logged into Facebook and here’s what I saw:

find out if your facebook has been hacked

I needed to choose a name for the iMac, so as you can see I gave it the most creative name I could think of: “Work iMac.” This computer is now identified by Facebook as one I use regularly.

In and of itself this wouldn’t be that useful, but there’s more: I get a follow-up email informing me that someone logged into my account from a computer I’ve never used before. Check it out:

how to find out if your facebook has been hacked

As you can see, I’m told the name of the computer that connected to Facebook, the time it was connected and that I should change my password ASAP if it wasn’t me that did this.

This may seem a little annoying, but the upside is obvious: if someone logs into my Facebook account without my permission, I’ll know.

This is comforting when you consider the story I linked to above, wherein Facebook username and passwords were sold to individuals who could use the information contained within for anything from identity theft to extortion.

Conclusion

This new feature doesn’t solve all of Facebook’s security flaws, but it does give people a way to protect the data they store on Facebook from unauthorized use. I’m going to leave it turned on, that’s for sure; it’s good to be informed when a new computer connects to any online account. I wish banks had a similar feature.

What do you think? Do you think it’s the best way to find out if your Facebook account has been hacked? Will you use this new Facebook feature, or do the annoyances outweigh the security benefits? Do you feel Facebook is doing enough to protect your personal information? Are you thinking of leaving Facebook, disconnecting from the Internet and seeking shelter in the mountains? No conclusive study has ever proven that commenting can cause cancer, so you might as well!

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