NZ business warns about cybersecurity after Facebook hackers lock owner out –


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Hackers are targeting business accounts on Facebook to access credit card details.

Lawrence Smith/Stuff

Hackers are targeting business accounts on Facebook to access credit card details.

An Auckland woman is warning other business owners to secure their social media accounts after her Facebook account was hacked.

Sarah Chant’s personal Facebook account was targeted, and Isis propaganda was posted on it, causing her page to be immediately banned because it breached Facebook’s guidelines.

As a result she lost access to her business Facebook pages, which she had run for more than 13 years, and feared her reputation, and her children’s face-painting business Fab Faces, had been tarnished.

She was unable to contact clients through the page, and the page sat inactive over the summer holiday period, which was a busy time for the business.


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Nelson Brows and Beauty were astounded Facebook did not remove a fake profile that scammed its customers.

She also lost access to her popular New Zealand travel tips page.

“Most of my pages were gone,” she said.

The hackers are targeting personal Facebook users who also had a linked business account, Chant said.

The hackers made themselves an administrator on the user’s business page, and used the credit card details associated with the business page to buy Facebook advertising.

“It’s incredibly stressful,” Chant said.

The credit card attached to her account had expired, so she did not lose any money.

But Krissy Griggs, marketing and partnerships manager at South Pacific Helicopters and Wings over Whales had her personal Facebook account hacked in December, losing access and had $6000 charged to her company credit card.

Dealing with Facebook’s parent company Meta was a “painfully slow process” and the company had not yet acknowledged the hack, she said.

Griggs said the fraud had been reported to the bank, but she had not received any of the money back.

The scam has been around since 2020, and has targeted a number of well-known Australian businesspeople, who have hired lawyers to get their accounts back.

ABC’s The Drum presenter Julia Baird was forced to issue a public appeal to Facebook on Twitter after her account was taken over by hackers, 9 News reported in August 2020.

Hackers are targeting personal Facebook users who also have a linked business account.

Jeremy Zero/Unsplash

Hackers are targeting personal Facebook users who also have a linked business account.

Sydney-based Dowson Turco Lawyers had represented a number of people who have faced similar hackings.

Partner Nicholas Stewart said innocent users were being hacked and were victims of phishing scams, bots and human trolls who were using Isis imagery as a weapon to cause financial damage.

The firm had a 100 per cent success in convincing Meta to restore the disabled accounts of clients around the world who had been victim of the Isis Facebook hack, he said.

“The process of restoring a Meta account following a hack, such as the Isis hack, is quite involved and, in our experience, users are often unable to resolve the issues directly with Meta, using the platform’s help tools.

“In our experience, we have had to prepare lengthy statutory declarations evidencing clients’ identity, location, business identity and reputation, and relevance of Meta to social/business identity. Further, we have had to argue Meta’s terms against it.”

Despite being a digital business, Meta’s lawyers have recently asked lawyers to stop sending emails and send all documents by mail to California.

“That is what we consider to be a deliberate obstacle to clients seeking redress,” he said.

Chant’s attempts to get her account back went unanswered by Meta, and she considered paying a hacking recovery business more than US$400 (NZ$590) to access her account.

The account was restored after Stuff asked Meta about the scam.

“Facebook are definitely aware of it,” Chant said.

She has now set up Google Authenticator, a two-factor authentication service which requires a code sent to her mobile phone to be entered to access the account.

Meta said users were advised to turn on app-based two-factor authentication.

Leon Neal/Getty Images

Meta said users were advised to turn on app-based two-factor authentication.

A Meta spokesman said online phishing techniques were not unique to Meta.

“However we’re making significant investments in technology to protect the security of people's accounts.

“We strongly encourage people to strengthen their online security by turning on app-based two-factor authentication, never share their password or account details and turn on alerts for unrecognised logins,” he said.

Brett Callow, threat analyst at cyber-security firm Emsisoft, said most hacks happened because of “fairly basic security failings”.

“Businesses can significantly reduce the likelihood of become a victim if they make sure they get the 101s right.”

It included having a solid password policy, limiting administrative rights and, most importantly, using multifactor authentication everywhere it should be used.

“This is the single biggest thing a business can do to stop the bad guys from getting in.”

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