The social networking site Facebook can be somewhat dangerous for those who aren't completely up to speed on how to use it. It stores a lot of personal information, and can also be taken over by spammers after a small slip up, as the FCC's Chairman recently found out.
The New York Times reported this incident, stating that Julius Genachowski, the Chairman of the FCC, had begun sending spam messages to his friends on Facebook. The spam messages contained a link that was no longer active, though they certainly proved that the Chairman's account had been taken over by a spam application. Later in the day, however, his account was no longer active; it had been taken down by Facebook, in order to be sorted out.
Facebook sent a statement about the event, saying, "We take security very seriously and have devoted significant resources towards helping our users protect their accounts. We've developed complex automated systems that detect and flag Facebook accounts that are likely to be compromised (based on anomalous activity like lots of messages sent in a short period of time, or messages with links that are known to be bad). Because Facebook is a closed system, we have a tremendous advantage over email. That is, once we detect a phony message, we can delete that message in all inboxes across the site."
They continued, "We also block malicious links from being shared and work with third parties to get phishing and malware sites added to browser blacklists or taken down completely. Users whose accounts have been compromised are put through a remediation process, where they must take steps to re-secure their account and learn security best practices. This is what happened with Chairman Genachowski's account." Lastly, they added, "To combat these threats, however, we need users' help too. You can protect yourself by never clicking on strange links, even if they've been sent by friends, and by being wary of sites that ask you to download or upgrade software."
It hasn't been revealed as to how the account become compromised in the first place, though it does show just how big the risk is for anyone using those sites – even the Chairman of the FCC.