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Facebook notifies users of potential nation-state attacks

Mon 19 Oct 2015

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Facebook has announced its plans to notify users if they are under threat from state-sponsored cyberattacks.

In a post-Snowden era, Facebook has made known its position on nation-state surveillance and is now putting itself forward as a watchdog for the everyday internet user. The social media giant proposes a notification system triggered when its algorithms suspect nation-state activity.

In an online post on Saturday, Facebook chief security officer (CSO) Alex Stamos, said that as the power and danger of nation-state cyberattacks are potentially greater than any other hacker threat, extra security and alerts are required to protect the average user.

‘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,’ said Stamos.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 10.20.19He added: ‘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.’

This particular alert will pop up on the user’s Facebook page, warning them of the danger and advising them to switch on login approvals, which require the individual to enter a security code sent to them from Facebook.

Facebook made clear that if a user sees this alert it does not mean that Facebook itself has been hacked, rather that it indicates that the person’s computer or smart device has been compromised and hackers are trying to access their online profiles.

In a statement, Stamos said that he could not reveal the ‘methods and processes’ behind the notification system in order to ‘protect its integrity.’ He concluded: ‘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.’


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