Facebook to Warn Users Whose Accounts Have Been Targeted By Governments

Facebook is taking steps to warn users whose accounts may have been compromised by government entities.

Facebook is taking steps to warn users whose accounts may have been compromised by government entities.

Chief security officer Alex Stamos announced in a note on the Facebook Security page that in situations where Facebook believes users’ accounts have been targeted or compromised by attacks on behalf of nation-states, those users will receive warning notifications similar to the one pictured below, reading:

Please secure your accounts now: We believe your Facebook account and your other online accounts may be the target of attacks from state-sponsored actors. Turning on login approvals will help keep others from logging into your Facebook account. Whenever your account is accessed from a new device or browser, we’ll send a security code to your phone so that only you can log in. We recommend you also take steps to secure the accounts you use on other services.

Stamos offered further details in his note:

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. 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.

It’s important to understand that this warning is not related to any compromise of Facebook’s platform or systems, and that having an account compromised in this manner may indicate that your computer or mobile device has been infected with malware. Ideally, people who see this message should take care to rebuild or replace these systems if possible.

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.

Readers: What do you think of this move by Facebook?


Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.