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:

Stabilizing brain-computer interfaces
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) have published research in Nature Biomedical Engineering that will drastically improve brain-computer interfaces and their ability to remain stabilized during use, greatly reducing or potentially eliminating the need to recalibrate these devices during or between experiments.
Computer-generated genomes
Professor Beat Christen, ETH Zurich to speak in the AAAS 2020 session, 'Synthetic Biology: Digital Design of Living Systems.' Christen will describe how computational algorithms paired with chemical DNA synthesis enable digital manufacturing of biological systems up to the size of entire microbial genomes.
Computer-based weather forecast: New algorithm outperforms mainframe computer systems
The exponential growth in computer processing power seen over the past 60 years may soon come to a halt.
A computer that understands how you feel
Neuroscientists have developed a brain-inspired computer system that can look at an image and determine what emotion it evokes in people.
Computer program looks five minutes into the future
Scientists from the University of Bonn have developed software that can look minutes into the future: The program learns the typical sequence of actions, such as cooking, from video sequences.
Computer redesigns enzyme
University of Groningen biotechnologists used a computational method to redesign aspartase and convert it to a catalyst for asymmetric hydroamination reactions.
Mining for gold with a computer
Engineers from Texas A&M University and Virginia Tech report important new insights into nanoporous gold -- a material with growing applications in several areas, including energy storage and biomedical devices -- all without stepping into a lab.
Teaching quantum physics to a computer
An international collaboration led by ETH physicists has used machine learning to teach a computer how to predict the outcomes of quantum experiments.
Seeing the next dimension of computer chips
Japanese researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to image the side-surfaces of 3-D silicon crystals for the first time.
How old does your computer think you are?
Computerised face recognition is an important part of initiatives to develop security systems, in building social networks, in curating photographs, and many other applications.
More Computer News and Computer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.