Pakistani Journalists, beware of fake accounts


In a matter of two days, I have received at least two friends requests on Facebook from people claiming to be prominent political personalities. When looked closely, I noticed they are adding only journalists — some of whom have prominent journalists critical of state as mutual friends. It must be tempting to accept the friends request, right? No! Not without thinking why would Syeda Shehla Raza or for that matter Zartaj Gul add me on Facebook?

In the past, I usually ignored such things but have decided to now speak up. In the day and age of what’s being referred to as the 5th generation warfare, it’s critical to care about your digital security in general and social media account security in particular.

How can these fake accounts harm you?

First, the obvious: They can snoop on your private social media and collect data on you — including identification data — which can be used against you.

The second is that we tend to not really care when clicking on something sent by someone prominent and these accounts could send you malicious links/files opening which could end up you installing a spyware on your device and your account getting hacked.

Who could be doing this

I don’t know, you guess! The good ol’ trolls? Hackers trying to make money off of you? The state/non-state actors trying to surveil on you?

What can you do about it

First, don’t accept friend requests from people you’re not expecting to receive friend requests from. Try to talk with your friends through other channels and verify it’s them when adding them on social media and interacting with them.

Care about your digital security one important part of which is account security for your social media. You can start by having a secure password and protecting your accounts with some sort of second factor authentication. Keep your devices up to date with latest Operating System (iOS, Android) and Apps updates.

There’s a lot more to digital security than what I just wrote for you to start with. My recommendation is to follow Reporters without Borders’ digital helpdesk at https://helpdesk.rsf.org of which I’m a part.

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