Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

5/2/2013
02:31 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Facebook Turns Friends Into IT Support

Facebook's new Trusted Contacts option lets friends assist with account recovery, so Facebook personnel don't have to.

Microsoft Surface: Round Two
10 Ways Microsoft Could Improve Surface Tablet
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Just as companies have warmed to the financial benefits of employee-supplied devices and have embraced the rent savings of offices that are open but smaller under the pretense of promoting interaction, Facebook has recognized the economic and security promise of deputizing users to provide customer support.

The social network, ever keen to increase user engagement, wants you to designate friends as Trusted Contacts who can restore access to your Facebook account "if you ever have trouble logging in." Don't call us, call a friend.

Why might you have trouble logging in? Facebook doesn't say. A hacked account is one possibility, but presumably anyone who hijacks your account could alter your Trusted Contact list. And Facebook maintains a separate account reset process for hacked accounts, at facebook.com/hacked.

[ Wondering what it's like to wear Google's new high-tech glasses? Read Google Glass: First Impressions. ]

The most common scenario for resorting to Trusted Contacts is a forgotten password. This could be a relatively frequent occurrence, given that Facebook tends to keep users logged in, thereby obviating the need to type one's password and making it easier to forget.

Account recovery processes, however, have a long history of insecurity. For example, in 2008, the Yahoo Mail account of then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was hacked when a University of Tennessee student reset the account password by answering what turned out to be obvious password recovery questions. The following year, Yahoo Mail's account recovery process was abused again to gain control over a Twitter administrative account.

A Facebook spokeswoman in an email said that there are also occasions when users lose access to the email account through which they log in to Facebook.

Facebook in a blog post suggests that the Trusted Contact account recovery process represents an improvement on answering security questions. "With trusted contacts, there's no need to worry about remembering the answer to your security question or filling out long web forms to prove who you are," the company says. "You can recover your account with help from your friends."

There's another security benefit too: Account compromises often occur as a result of social engineering attacks. While customer service personnel can be tricked into revealing personal information by people posing as account holders, friends presumably are less likely to be duped by an imposter soliciting sensitive data.

With Trusted Contacts, Facebook support personnel can expect fewer emails from users who can't log in to get their their social fix. What's more, Trusted Contacts could create a user retention halo effect: Users will probably be less likely to drift away from Facebook when their friends have entrusted them with the keys to their accounts.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Cara Latham
50%
50%
Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/6/2013 | 12:41:24 PM
re: Facebook Turns Friends Into IT Support
It sounds like a manipulative trick Facebook is playing if the company really is thinking that Trusted Contacts would create a scenario in which users would be "less likely to drift away
from Facebook when their friends have entrusted them with the keys to
their account."

Then again, I think most users would be wary of providing even their "trusted contacts" with access to their accounts. On a small level, think of the possibility of someone posting an obscene status update on your behalf. On a larger level, it could possibly tie you to the site for a long time.

My reaction is to avoid it. I have survived many years without needing to add Trusted Contacts to my account, so I think I will do without them in the future.
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment:   It's a PEN test of our cloud security.
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19631
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-24
An issue was discovered in Big Switch Big Monitoring Fabric 6.2 through 6.2.4, 6.3 through 6.3.9, 7.0 through 7.0.3, and 7.1 through 7.1.3; Big Cloud Fabric 4.5 through 4.5.5, 4.7 through 4.7.7, 5.0 through 5.0.1, and 5.1 through 5.1.4; and Multi-Cloud Director through 1.1.0. A read-only user can ac...
CVE-2020-5219
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-24
Angular Expressions before version 1.0.1 has a remote code execution vulnerability if you call expressions.compile(userControlledInput) where userControlledInput is text that comes from user input. If running angular-expressions in the browser, an attacker could run any browser script when the appli...
CVE-2019-18900
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-24
: Incorrect Default Permissions vulnerability in libzypp of SUSE CaaS Platform 3.0, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 allowed local attackers to read a cookie store used by libzypp, exposing private cookies. This issue affects: SUSE CaaS Platform 3.0 libzypp versions p...
CVE-2020-7226
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-24
CiphertextHeader.java in Cryptacular 1.2.3, as used in Apereo CAS and other products, allows attackers to trigger excessive memory allocation during a decode operation, because the nonce array length associated with "new byte" may depend on untrusted input within the header of encoded data...
CVE-2012-6302
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-24
Soapbox through 0.3.1: Sandbox bypass - runs a second instance of Soapbox within a sandboxed Soapbox.