It’s a commonly accepted fact: Facebook knows far too much information about us. Millions of people willfully tell Zuckerberg and his team of cronies what they like, what they hate, who they have a crush on, which school they went to, and a whole lot more.
And let’s not mention people’s strange desire to post photographs of everything from their dinner to their vacation.
If you’re one of the people who use Facebook like a life-log, at least you can (sort of) rest easy in the knowledge you’re one of many. And Facebook (theoretically) isn’t sharing any personally identifiable information with advertisers, app developers, or other third-parties.
Far more sinister and worrisome if is someone has access to your account without your knowledge. Let’s take a closer look.
The Dangers of Unauthorized Access
Oh, where to start? There are countless dangers of someone accessing your account without your knowledge. Let’s briefly summarize some of the most troublesome:
- Exploitation of Private Information: If you’re a Facebook addict, there’s a good chance there’s information on your account you’d rather not share with the world. Perhaps it pertains to your sexuality, religion, political beliefs, or another “hot” topic. You could even be a victim of revenge.
- Cyber-bullying: Cyber-bullying is a real and growing threat. We’ve already seen apps like After School come under significant fire from teachers, parents, and governments for their inability to protect users. Given people can sign up to Facebook once they are 13-years-old, there is massive potential for cyber-bullying if someone has unauthorized access to private information.
- Viruses: There have been numerous instances of viruses spreading through Facebook. The Messenger service is a particularly common attack vector, with malicious links spreading quickly. A hacker could use your account to send links to unsuspecting friends, giving both you and them a problem.
- Other Accounts: People often link their Facebook accounts to other social networks. An unauthorized user can create havoc across a person’s online identity if left unchecked.
Is Someone Accessing Your Facebook Account?
Okay; so, we all agree that if someone has unauthorized access to your Facebook account, it’s bad news. If you don’t react quickly, it probably won’t end well.
But how do you know if someone else is accessing your account?
Luckily, Facebook has made it easy to uncover the truth. In fact, the feature has been present for almost five years – but Facebook doesn’t do a good job of letting you know about it. Several people whom I spoke to didn’t know it existed.
To begin, log in to your account and click on the small arrow in the upper-right corner of the title bar. You will see a menu like the one below. You need to select Settings.
Once the Settings page has loaded, locate Security and login on the panel on the left-hand side of the screen.
The website will take you to the recently-redesigned security page. On this page, you will find lots of features to prevent someone gaining access to your account again in the future. For now, we’re only interested in the Where you’re logged in section.
You will see a list of all the devices and locations which are currently authorized to access your account. Make sure you click on See more to view the full list.
You might notice some devices which look suspicious, but that aren’t anything to worry about on closer inspection.
For example, check out my list of locations above. I have not been to Mexico City or Toluca on those dates, but I do own a Moto G5. Therefore, I can be confident this is an IP glitch from my ISP or mobile carrier, rather than someone impersonating me.
Removing a Device
If you see something that looks suspicious, you can use this list to revoke its access.
To revoke access, click on the three vertical dots next to the device you want to remove. A new menu will pop up. You can either select Not you? or Log out.
If you click on Not You? Facebook will block the device in question and take you through some steps to secure your account (more on those shortly). If you click Log out, the access will be revoked, but the unauthorized person could potentially log in again if they know your password.
If you just want to start afresh, scroll down to the bottom of your list of devices and click on Log out of all sessions.
Prevent the Problem
Once you’ve revoked the unauthorized person’s access, you need to take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Of course, the first step is to change your password. You can do so by heading to Settings > Security and login > Login > Change password. You will need to enter your old password to complete the process.
But changing your password is only half of the story. You should also consider setting up two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication can use either a text message, a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) security key, the official Facebook code generator (in the smartphone app), or a third-party code generator. To set up a third-party code generator, you’ll need to scan a QR code.
To turn on two-factor authentication, go to Settings > Security and login Settings > Security and login > Set up two-factor authentication.
You should also set up alerts for unrecognized logins. By enabling the feature, Facebook will notify you if it sees a login from a suspicious source. It will allow you to react more quickly in the event of a breach.
To set up the feature, go to Settings > Security and login > Setting up extra security > Get alerts about unrecognized logins. Expand the box, and mark the checkboxes next to either Get notifications or Email login alerts to [address] (or both), depending on your preferences. Hit Save changes when you’re ready.
Has Your Facebook Account Been Breached?
Let’s quickly summarize what we have learned:
- You can check if someone else is accessing your account by going to Settings > Security and login > Where you’re logged in
- You should enable additional security checks in Settings > Security and login > Setting up extra security
If you’ve completely lost access to your Facebook account – don’t panic. There are some steps you can take to recover your Facebook account when you can no longer log in. And did you know that you can control which apps and services share your data with Facebook?
Image Credit: kvkirillov/Depositphotos