Expert's warning: "Any account online can be hacked." - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Expert's warning: "Any account online can be hacked."

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New Orleans, La. - News of online security breaches has some thinking twice about those so-called privacy and security settings. The experts say that's a good thing, because nothing is really safe online.

Tulane student Drew Muller knows what it's like to be hacked. "They just went on my profile and wrote stuff that clearly wasn't me," said Muller.

He recalls the hijacking of his Facebook page. It's a scenario that played out on a much bigger scale Monday for a burger giant. Burger King's Twitter page featured the golden arches for a while and then the tweet, "just got sold to McDonalds because the Whopper flopped."

"Here's a major corporation who has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars annually with their communications staff and they're tightly managed, and they got hacked," said Ashley Nelson, a professor at Tulane.

Nelson teaches a social media class at Tulane.  In that class she sends a clear message. "If someone really wants to get into your account, they're going to get in," she said.

Another lesson is about the true purpose of social networking sites: collecting information. "Facebook is there to gather your information. That's their purpose, because why? They want to sell you something," said Nelson.

The sites sell through ads strategically place on your page. She says every click is earning someone money, all thanks to you providing your information.  Even seemingly harmless "likes" on Facebook can become bits of marketing data that the service can then sell to third parties.

Nelson says the bottom line is that your information is never private and neither is your account, regardless of your security settings.

"It happens on Facebook. It happens on Twitter. Any account online can be hacked," she said.

Tulane students seem to have gotten the message. "Just don't put stuff on the Internet that you don't want out there," said one student.

"I am very careful about what I put on there because I feel like anybody could see it," said another.

But even if you are careful about what you post, a hacker hijacking remains a risk.

Referring to the Twitter takeover of Burger King, a social media worker at Wendy's tweeted, "My real life nightmare is playing out."

A spokesperson for Burger King says they don't know who hacked into the account. However, at the beginning of this month, Twitter acknowledged that cyber attackers may have stolen user names and passwords of 250,000 users.

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