Hundreds of South African Facebook profiles have been cloned and used to scam friends and family, the Times reported on Tuesday.
This was as a result of programs deep mining online accounts to bypass security features, the Times reported.
According to the report, University of KwaZulu-Natal associate professor of information systems Manoj Maharaj said that, while Facebook itself may prove tricky to hack, getting log-in details from external sites is easier.
He warned Facebook users to be vigilant and not click on any foreign links and share information with unknown sites and apps.
“Users are clicking on these links without realising that their information is being passed on. If one of those sites is hacked, their information, such as credit card details, is easily accessible,” he told the paper.
Social media security
A recent flurry of high-profile hacks on Twitter have placed social media security in the spotlight, globally.
After prominent media outlets – such as Associated Press – were hacked on the social platform, Twitter quickly beefed up its security processes by rolling out an optional login verification service.
When users log in to Twitter via a web browser, the system requires that they must confirm their identity by entering a six-digit code which Twitter delivers to their smartphones.
However, services such as Facebook, Google and even Microsoft have implemented similar processes already, and the recent wave of Facebook account cloning shows that users need to be more vigilant with their data.
“Facebook users are sharing too much online and this is helping criminals gain access to their personal information,” Maharaj told the Times, saying that stolen identities were “extremely valuable”.
“The risk depends on the user. If you share minimal information online, the risk will be minimal. But if you are someone who gives a lot of information, when your identity is stolen your information can be used for malicious purposes and to defraud you,” he said.