Social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives us quick and efficient access to great amounts of information, and it also allows us to connect with people in ways unimaginable, pre-internet. On the other hand, identity theft and information hackers are constant threats, making social media much more dangerous than we like to admit.
This is exactly what Reza Moaiandin, a technical director at Salt Agency, wants to draw attention to, after he found a privacy breach in Facebook. According to Moaiandin, hackers can simply enter a target victim’s phone number into the Facebook search bar, and this alone would generate the person’s name, location, photo, and other pieces of highly personal information that can be stolen and sold to online underground criminals. Moaiandin warned that by “reverse engineering,” hackers can quickly access names and phone numbers of anyone in an entire country.
He explained that “the most worrying aspect of discovering this issue is that it happened entirely by mistake. I wasn’t even searching for flaws in Facebook’s security when I came across it.” This is troubling because it means that harvesting someone’s private information isn’t necessarily a very difficult thing to accomplish, especially for advanced hackers.
In order to prevent potentially becoming a victim of identity theft, users should tighten their Facebook security settings as much as they can, or even better, they can choose not to provide their phone numbers on Facebook at all. In the meantime, we hope Facebook will quickly address this security flaw before it becomes a major issue.