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Facebook Tightens Security: Suspends Thousands of 3rd Party Apps 

This year Facebook announced that suspended “tens of thousands” of apps that may have manipulated account holder’s private information. The announcement sparked a fury of speculation about Facebook’s ability to keep its users secure. Also, Zuckerberg was called in a meet with U.S. lawmakers to explain the latest in a long string of privacy issues.

The mass suspension eclipsed the Cambridge Analytica scandal (2015-2018) in which millions of users’ Facebook profiles were compromised for political purposes. The investigation that led to the interruption of thousands of apps lasted for 18 months. Facebook identified which apps were abusing its policies and banned them permanently.

Facebook is continuing its probe to determine what, if any, additional threats may be lingering on its platform.

VPN Encryption: A Solution to the Facebook Scandal

One of the simplest ways for Facebook users to avoid privacy and security problems on social media is to learn how VPN encryption works. A virtual private network provides three layers of security:

Layer 1: IP Address Masking

Users who visit social media sites like Facebook are always at risk of being tracked by an outside entity. A virtual private network can assign an IP address that that virtually ‘relocates’ the user.

Layer 2: Tunneling

When a user downloads or uploads information to or from Facebook, the data is shielded in a virtual tunnel. A hacker or other entity cannot intercept or view the data as it is en route.

Layer 3: Encryption

As a third layer of protection, a virtual private network provides encryption for all data that travels to or from the user. Encryption is essentially just scrambling the data or message so that it is unreadable.

What About All Those Facebook Apps?

App developers have been creating apps on Facebook since its inception in 2004. Since that time, millions of apps have landed on or passed through Facebook. In many cases, the purpose of the app is typically hidden behind its function. A user may believe that they are playing a simple game, when, in fact, their activity is being tracked or their profile compromised. Or worse, their device is infected with malware. Some hackers will use an app to break into a user’s private data beyond Facebook. They can use the app to get into a phone, tablet, or computer.

A VPN is a simple solution that prohibits app developers and hackers from accessing this information. Through IP address relocation, tunneling, and encryption, it is impossible for entities to get into the user’s account. Does a VPN guarantee this level of security 100% of the time? No. However, it increases security at such a high level that app developers have an extremely difficult time busting through the digital barriers.

Is Facebook Trustworthy?

The larger question that Facebook users need to ask is, “Is the Internet trustworthy?” The obvious answer to that question is a resounding No! Currently, millions of harmful agents such as malware, worms, bots, and malicious codes pollute the web, making it a volatile environment for any user.

The security risks are even higher on social media platforms such as Facebook. Therefore, users need to take every precaution available to secure their devices and their networks. While Windows and Mac computers have built-security features, and antivirus programs can reduce security risks to a certain point. A VPN can provide a more comprehensive level of privacy and safety.

Also, a VPN allows users to visit sites or platforms on the web, such as:

  • Torrents
  • Blocked sites
  • Streaming services
  • Social media platforms
  • Video game apps or hardware
  • Chatrooms
  • And more

 

These are areas that are otherwise banned or highly unstable on the internet. For instance, a user who travels to another country may discover that they cannot get certain movies or TV shows on Netflix or Amazon. Or, they may not be able to login to Facebook or use certain Facebook features.

A VPN grants access to specific platforms without compromising the user’s security. A user can engage in any activity without worrying about being tracked by hackers, Internet service providers (ISPs), or government agency. A VPN provides complete masking and protection regardless of location.

Facebook and App Developers: An Unstable Relationship

When assessing this latest incident with Facebook, social media users need to keep two things in mind:

  1. Facebook is a Work in Progress

Mark Zuckerberg and his team still have a long way to go to improve its security practices and hold app developers accountable. As it turns out, their measures for tightening security have been more reactive than proactive. While addressing issues on the platform is necessary and good, Facebook needs to take more proactive and preventative measures to keep problems from occurring in the first place.

 

  1. Facebook Still Invites Questionable Developers to the Platform

In many ways, Facebook is still to blame for this latest investigation, because they can continue to invite developers to the platform. Furthermore, they grant specific levels of access to user profiles for marketing and research purposes. There is also speculation that Facebook has known about security problems for years, but chose to ignore them. Zuckerberg has confirmed these suspicions by admitting that Facebook could have done more to keep users private but did not.

Should Users Stay on Facebook or Get Off?

Back in May of 2018, Twitter urged all 300 million Twitter users to change their passwords after a possible breach. In 2016, a hacker stole 6.5 million encrypted passwords from LinkedIn. Back in June of this year, Instagram reported that 49 million users (including Facebook) were affected by a security breach.

While there is no denying that Facebook has its share of problems, social media, in general, is dangerous. Therefore, anyone who opens a social media account should understand the dangers that inherent. Almost all social media platforms allow third-party developers to share apps on the platform. This presents a considerable threat to account holder security.

Therefore, anyone who decides to start an account on social media should make sure they have taken proper security measures. This starts by investing in a dependable virtual private network.

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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.