Nav: Home

One in 5 adults secretly access their friends' Facebook accounts

January 19, 2017

Most people are concerned about the prospect of their social media accounts being hacked, but a new study finds that it's actually people we know who frequently access our accounts without our permission.

In a survey of 1,308 U.S. adult Facebook users, University of British Columbia researchers found that 24 per cent - or more than one in five - had snooped on the Facebook accounts of their friends, romantic partners or family members, using the victims' own computers or cellphones.

"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," said Wali Ahmed Usmani, study author and computer science master's student.

People admitted to spying on their friends, family, and romantic partners out of simple curiosity or fun--for example, setting a victim's status or profile picture to something humorous. But other motives were darker, such as jealousy or animosity.

"Jealous snoops generally plan their action and focus on personal messages, accessing the account for 15 minutes or longer," said computer science professor Ivan Beschastnikh, a senior author on the paper.

"And the consequences are significant: in many cases, snooping effectively ended the relationship."

The findings highlight the ineffectiveness of passwords and device PINs in stopping unauthorized access by insiders, added electrical and computer engineering professor Kosta Beznosov, the paper's other senior author.

"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," said Beznosov.
-end-
"Characterizing social insider attacks on Facebook" was funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and prepared in collaboration with researchers at the University of Lisbon. It will be presented in May at the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017).

University of British Columbia

Related Computer Articles:

Protein research: The computer as microscope
Using a combination of infrared spectroscopy and computer simulation, researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have gained new insights into the workings of protein switches.
Computer programming made easier
In order to simplify program development, a National Science Foundation-supported project called Expeditions in Computer Augmented Program Engineering, is developing technology that provides human operators with automated assistance.
Computer scientists find way to make all that glitters more realistic in computer graphics
Iron Man's suit. Captain America's shield. The Batmobile. These all could look a lot more realistic thanks to a new algorithm developed by a team of US computer graphics experts.
Building a better computer bug finder
Detecting bugs in computer programs is an expensive task, and there is no way of measuring their efficacy without knowing exactly how many go unnoticed.
Particle zoo in a quantum computer
Physicists in Innsbruck have realized the first quantum simulation of lattice gauge theories, building a bridge between high-energy theory and atomic physics.
Could a computer tell you when your time is up?
Statisticians, computer scientists and medics from the University of East Anglia are launching a new project to predict how long you will live.
What should be the role of computer games in education?
Game advocates are calling for a sweeping transformation of conventional education to replace traditional curricula with game-based instruction.
The brain-computer duel: Do we have free will?
Our choices seem to be freer than previously thought. Using computer-based brain experiments, researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin studied the decision-making processes involved in voluntary movements.
Better therapies due to computer models
The heart as a simulation: in a new project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft scientists of TU Dresden explore the computational modeling of the human heart.
Quantum computer coding in silicon now possible
A team of Australian engineers has proven -- with the highest score ever obtained -- that a quantum version of computer code can be written, and manipulated, using two quantum bits in a silicon microchip.

Related Computer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...