Ask The Experts: Insights on Facebook Friends

This time around, the experts tackle this question:

Q: “Hey Security Experts, should I be friends with everyone that asks on Facebook? What’s the risk of friending people I don’t really know? Can we be friends on Facebook?” –Scott918

Adam Hostetler weighed in with:

I wouldn’t recommend accepting friends request for anyone on Facebook, unless you actually know them. This especially goes for somebody that claims they work at the same company as you, as it really could be somebody building a network of targets to social engineer.

Take advantage of Facebook privacy settings also. Don’t make your information public, and only make it viewable by friends. I would even recommend against putting too much personal information on there, even if it is only among friends. There have been security issues in the past that allow people to get around privacy controls, and Facebook really doesn’t need a lot of information from you anyway.

John Davis added:

The short answer is NO! I’m a big believer in the tenet the you DON’T want the whole world to know everything about you. Posting lots of personal facts, even to your known friends on Facebook, is akin to the ripples you get from tossing a pebble into still water – tidbits of info about you radiate out from your friends like waves. You never know who may access it and you can never get it back! There are lots of different people out there that you really don’t want as your friend – I’m talking about everything from annoying marketers to thieves to child molesters. People like that are trying to find out information about you all the time. Why make it easy for them?

Finally, Phil Grimes chimed in:

Facebook is a ripe playground for attackers. This is something I speak about regularly and the short answer is NO, absolutely not. If you don’t know someone, what is the benefit of “friending” them? There is no benefit. On the contrary, this opens a can of worms few of us are prepared to handle. By having friends who aren’t really friends one risks being attacked directly, in the case of the unknown friend sending malicious links or the like. There is also the risk of indirect attack. If an attacker is stalking Facebook pages, there is a lot of information that can be viewed, even if you think your privacy settings are properly set. Stranger danger applies even more on the Internet.

So, while they may not be your friends on Facebook, you can follow the Experts on Twitter (@microsolved) or keep an eye on the blog at http://www.stateofsecurity.com. Until next time, stay safe out there!