Potential Security Issues with Facebook Home Software for Android?

A new Facebook feature, Facebook Home, is likely to be popular with many users. But in this guest post, Sarah Boisvert explains some of the big new security risks to warn them about. 


The runaway success of the Apple family of iPhones has every tech company trying to break into the Smartphone market. So it’s logical that rumors of the big industry giants like Google and Facebook creating their own mobile devices have been rampant for years.

Facebook, for one, seems to have steered clear of the headaches associated with hardware manufacturing by partnering with Android suppliers Samsung and HTC. Phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note II and HTC First carry a new app from the social media company. Facebook Home creates a Facebook user experience right in the phone’s lockscreen and application launcher. But as with all things Facebook, security is an issue on a number of levels.

Here’s a quick rundown of known security problems, and some recommendations for how users can correct or manage them.

1. Lockscreen unlocked without permission

There have been a number of unsettling news reports that Facebook Home has been disabling locks, especially on the HTC First Phone, which has the new app pre-installed. In a test reported by Paul Wagenseil of TechNewsDaily, they were able to go around the lockscreen to get directly into the phone owner’s email and Gmail accounts, among other things.

The testers admitted that a full factory re-set seemed to fix the issue, but still, it’s a serious problem. Cyber-security gurus always recommend locking the screen to avoid easy access to the huge amount of data that’s stored in various apps. That Facebook Home can easily bypass essential security is a big concern to users.

Luckily, one can disable the app, and security consultants are recommending you do so until a fix is issued.

2. Visible feed

Of course the entire premise of a lockscreen aiding in security is completely shattered by the Facebook Home data feed that appears without ever having to unlock your phone! So, anyone with a view of your phone can see wall posts, photos, “likes,” comments and the entire range of Facebook interactions all the time. You can even “like” from the locked screen. Well, perhaps it’s not really locked after all.

If you are an employee who takes your phone to business meetings, Facebook Home can bring new levels of embarrassment when friends post personal information about you. Or worse yet, photos. And, of course, roaming fees will skyrocket for travelers whose Facebook Home is continually downloading photos.

3. Location revealed

Perhaps one of the more sinister aspects of Facebook Home is its innate ability to track the location of your phone. While all your neighbors know if you’re away for vacation, they’re on your side and will keep an eye out for strangers. However, a stranger who knows you’re away from home may be tempted to pay a visit to do some shopping … in your home.

For women who fear stalkers, location information is even more of a concern. It may not take too much effort for someone to detect your patterns, from home to work to school, etc. A young mobile user may use location apps to help hook up with like-minded friends, but for many people, the knowledge presents enormous privacy issues.

The privacy and security concerns associated with Facebook Home have forced the company to create a blog entitled Answering Your Questions on Home and Privacy. Carefully consider your options before using all the features that stretch the boundaries of security in your personal life.

About the author: Sarah Boisvert writes on a variety of topics including social media, 3D printing, FabLabs, finance, and marketing. She has profiled Steve Jobs, Steve Wynn, Chuck Hull, and Warren Buffett.

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