Security implications of new Facebook e-mail service

Facebook has announced its new email service which brings together Facebook messages, instant messaging chat and SMS messages in one place.

“Before signing up, users need to realise that these new features increase the attack surface on the Facebook platform, and make personal accounts all the more alluring for cybercriminals to break into,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “Facebook accounts will now be linked with many more people in the users’ social circles – opening up new opportunities for identity fraudsters to launch attacks.”

Cybercriminals are compromising the accounts of Facebook users, and using their accounts to spread spam messages. Spam sent via social networks can be more effective than traditional email spam, as users are more likely to open and trust a message which appears to have been sent by someone they know – one of their Facebook friends.

“Users also need to be aware that Facebook will be storing a complete archive of all of their communications with one person – this raises concerns as to how this data could be misused if it fell into the wrong hands,” continued Cluley. “With this in mind, it will be critical for Facebook to implement more effective filtering mechanisms to prevent fraudsters from manipulating Facebook users into falling victim to new spams, scams and
phishing attacks.”

Users will need to take greater care of the security of their Facebook account than ever before. Keeping security up-to-date on computers, policing which applications link with their Facebook profile, and choosing sensible, unique, hard-to-crack passwords will be essential.

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