Facebook warns users about state-sponsored attacks against their accounts

Is NSA targeting Facebook users? Facebook to alert users about nation-state sponsored attacks on their FB accounts

Facebook users are being targeted by hackers who are sponsored by a unknown nation-state. This was revealed by Facebook Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos. He said that Facebook will begin alerting its users when their account is being targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state.

Facebook to alert users about nation-state sponsored attacks on their FB accounts

“While we have always taken steps to secure accounts that we believe to have been compromised, we decided to show this additional warning if we have a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored,” Facebook CSO Alex Stamos explained.

Stamos did not elaborate which nation was sponsoring the accounts or how the Facebook users are targeted.  Facebook has their own methods and processes that they want to keep secret so that attackers can’t find a way to pass their hacking attempts as generic ones.

“We do this because these types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others, and we strongly encourage affected people to take the actions necessary to secure all of their online accounts.”

Stamos said that if a user sees the above warning, it doesn’t mean that Facebook was compromised, but that it’s very likely that the user’s computer or mobile device has been saddled with malware.

“To protect the integrity of our methods and processes, we often won’t be able to explain how we attribute certain attacks to suspected attackers. That said, we plan to use this warning only in situations where the evidence strongly supports our conclusion. We hope that these warnings will assist those people in need of protection, and we will continue to improve our ability to prevent and detect attacks of all kinds against people on Facebook.”

“Ideally, people who see this message should take care to rebuild or replace these systems if possible,” he said.

As this is a large scale state-sponsored attack, Facebook advises users to protect their accounts by turning on Login Approvals, so that each time someone – the user or an attacker – tries to log into the account from an unknown browser, they will also have to provide a security code that is sent to the user’s phone.

Facebook to alert users about nation-state sponsored attacks on their FB accounts
Facebook is not the first Internet firm to do that. Google has issued similar warning in June 2012 when it found out that Gmail users were targeted by hackers who were state-sponsored.


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