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Facebook is becoming filled with scams that seem to get trickier all the time. The new attack targets people using Facebook, and it relies on your lack of knowledge about the platform’s “Trusted Contacts” feature.
Trusted Contacts is a system created by Facebook to help you gain access to your account if you forget your password or your account is locked. If you enable Trusted Contacts, Facebook will ask you to identify three to five people. If you need access to your account, Facebook will send part of a code to each of these users that can be combined to gain access to your account.
If you receive a message from any of your Facebook Friends asking for urgent help to recover their Facebook account, since they’ve added you as one of their ‘Trusted Contacts‘—just don’t blindly believe it. According to a public security alert published by AccessNow, the attack initiates by an already compromised account of one of your friends, asking for urgent help to get back into his/her Facebook account.
How the attack works
- You get a message from an attacker on Facebook Messenger, who is using the compromised account of someone on your Friends list.
- The attacker asks for your help recovering their account, explaining that you are listed as one of their Trusted Contacts on Facebook, and tells you that you will receive a code for recovering their account.
- Then the attacker triggers the “I forgot my password” feature for your Facebook account and requests a recovery code.
- In an effort to help, you send the code you’ve just received to your “friend.”
- Using the code, the attacker can now steal your account from you, and use it to victimize other people.
In the cases we have observed, the attacker doesn’t stop after compromising just one account. It’s replicated across users’ social networks. When a message comes from a “friend,” people tend to trust it. That makes it an especially effective attack vector.
Although this latest Facebook scam is initiated using a compromised Facebook account of one of your friends, any of your Facebook friend can also intentionally trick you into handing over your Facebook account to them (looking at the way how people accept friend requests sent by anyone on the social media platform).
How to defend yourself against the attack
To help you stay safe, we encourage you to follow these recommendations:
- Treat urgent, unexpected messages with suspicion: Phishing messages often appear to come from a trusted friend. But if you get an odd message, ask yourself, are you already aware of being on a list of “Trusted Contacts” for any of your Facebook friends?
- Confirm with your friend: Try to verify your friend’s identity by telephone or in person.
- Act slowly and with caution. Attacks are always evolving. In general, try to stay calm when you get a message where the sender appears to want to trigger a strong emotional reaction, like anger or fear. This might make you think you have to hurry, and it could impair your ability to evaluate the situation objectively. Don’t panic. Figure out what is really happening before you take action.
- Learn how “Trusted Contacts” actually works: It doesn’t work the way the phishing message in this attack suggests. We explain the details below.
Here’s a visual to help illustrate the attack. Please spread the work:
Always to be vigilant to every recovery emails you receive, and read the recovery message or email carefully, even if it is sent by one of your actual friends.
Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!
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