Facebook has decided to issue a warning to all users whose accounts it suspects are being targeted by a nation-state. The social networking giant is already taking steps to secure the accounts that have been compromised, but now it has decided to issue direct alerts to users about the type of attack they might be prone to, Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said in a blog post.
Stamos wrote that state-sponsored attacks tend to be more sophisticated, hence, if a user account is compromised, it indicates that his computer or mobile device has been infected with malware. Stamos added that people who get this message should ideally rebuild or replace those systems.
People are advised in the warning to turn on a security feature called “login approvals.” If someone makes use of a different browser or computer for logging in to an account, then Facebook sends a one-time pass code to the user’s mobile phone that needs to be entered before the account can be accessed.
Facebook – a valuable resource
Facebook can prove to be an incredibly valuable resource if an attacker is able to secure the login credentials to someone’s account. The attacker can analyze the messages of the victim for sensitive information and make use of the person’s friend list to figure out relationships. This also gives the attacker an opportunity to attack all the people connected to the victim.
The attacker can send malicious messages to them, and they would trust those messages because they came from a known contact and could reveal sensitive information, hurting them in one way or another.
Facebook quiet on methodology
Experts make use of a number of ways to attribute cyber-attacks to a particular group or country. The servers used by the attackers for mounting an attack or a particular type of malware used by them to attack a computer can provide security experts with useful clues. Usually, the attackers have sneakiness on their side. They can use methods or tools that make it either confusing or impossible to track them.
Facebook chose not to share any more information other than the warning. “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,” the Facebook executive said. Facebook plans to use the warning only in situations that have enough evidence in support of their conclusion.