TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) – Hackers looking to steal personal information don’t have to look much further than your Facebook activity, particularly for those who enjoy taking the popular and seemingly innocent quizzes that often populate users’ news feed.
“You don’t know who’s collecting this information about you as you take these quizzes, and we’ve got to be very careful that the information about yourself is not falling into the wrong hands,” said Sri Sridharan, director of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida.
Many of the quizzes appear harmless, and pique users’ interest as a fun way to pass time. But Sridharan says some of the quizzes can give hackers access to information they can use against you, and you should never click on quizzes that don’t come from sources you trust.
“These are quizzes formed by some folks that might be credible, they might not be credible. They might be there just to steal your personal information. They will ask you what your age [is], which zip code do you live in, date of birth, location of where you live. And those are all important [bits] of information they can start to piece together,” said Sridharan.
“They can hack your Facebook, they can hack your email…and put it all together, and they have a pretty good profile of information on you. They have pretty good information on your likes and dislikes, and they will exploit those likes and dislikes by sending you phishing emails or other scams that they will do.”
Sometimes by taking a quiz posted on Facebook, users give the quiz developers access to their account, allowing them to see information considered private, such as political and religious beliefs.
Users can protect themselves by not taking quizzes that don’t come from reputable sources, or not taking them at all. Sridharan also advises users to change their Facebook password often, and not click on links from unsecure sites.
Many users might also be surprised at how many apps already have access to their Facebook accounts. To revoke access, go to Facebook privacy settings and click “apps” in the left-hand column of the page. That will bring up all the apps you’ve given permission to access your account. From there, hover over the app and click “remove.”