A hacker can abuse your social media account. It’s scary just imagining a stranger having access to your personal information, list of friends/contacts, photos, and personal messages. Here are some tips to protect your social media account from being compromised.
Signs that your social media account may have been hacked
It is important to be aware of possible signs that may indicate that your social media account may have been hacked.
1. You have trouble logging in. You are denied access to your account due to incorrect password. You tried typing your email and password several times but you still can’t get through.
Once a hacker gets control of your account, the person may change your password to prevent you from accessing it. While you remain locked out from your own account, the hacker may alter your personal data and post anything that he/she wants.
2. You notice your personal data has been changed such as your name and birthday.
3. Messages that you didn’t write were sent to your friends/followers.
4. Posts that you did not create suddenly show up on your timeline.
In many instances, a victim finds out that his/her social account has been hacked when friends on social media inform the person about suspicious postings from his/her account.
It is a cause of alarm when you suddenly find out from a relative, friend or co-worker that ‘you’ posted something that constitutes an R rating (e.g. obscene language and images containing nudity and sexuality).
5. You get notifications from different access locations. Some social media accounts such as Facebook tracks your location when you log in to your account. It notifies the account user if it identifies a log in attempt that is different to your usual locations.
Tips to follow if you suspect that your social media account has been hacked
Suspicious sessions – To check if the someone other than yourself is accessing your Facebook account, go to Home > Settings > Security > (under Security Settings) Where You’re Logged In (click edit). You’ll see a list of Current Sessions. You can choose to end any suspicious sessions.
It is recommended that you enable Login Alerts to get an alert when someone logs in to your account from a new device or browser. Enable Login Approvals to use your phone as an extra layer of security to prevent other people from logging in to your account.
After ending suspicious active sessions, change your password immediately.
Unexpected password resets – If you get an email notification that you requested for your password to be reset without asking for one, it probably means that someone entered your email address on the login page and clicked “I forgot my password”. It is possible that someone is testing if your security is low and if he/she can break into your account.
The email notification usually includes a link that you can click to confirm that you did not make the actual request. Some experts claim that it is not always wise to click the link because the email may turn out to be a phishing attempt.
It is best to change your password into a stronger one. Make sure that the answers to your secret questions cannot be easily guessed. You can also set up your mobile number to receive text messages for security purposes.
Report compromised account – If your account has been hacked and you are locked out by the hacker, report it as compromised.
Go to recovery page – For account recovery, go to your social media account recovery page and follow the instructions.
Delete suspicious applications – Aside from a hacker, it is also possible that a malicious application is compromising your account. Be careful of granting access to third-party applications via social media accounts. When authorizing an app, make sure that you trust the app and its developer. Find out the kind of data that that app wants to access.
When authorizing one of these applications, you should ensure you trust the application, review who it’s developed by, and review the kinds of information the application wants to access.
a you granted access to a malicious application which subsequently hijacked your account.
Inform your friends/contacts about the hacking – Contact your friends and let them know that your account has been hacked. Informing your contacts can help explain any inappropriate posts that the hacker may have created. You can contact them through email, text message and other social networks. You can also ask close friends to help you inform other friends.
How to avoid getting hacked
Maximize security settings – Every social media platform has its own set of security settings. Familiarize yourself with the security features and enable those that you think can give your account added protection.
Use app password – Many apps today are linked to social media accounts. You can use app passwords to log-in to your apps and keep your social media account password safe.
Be careful when granting permission to third-party apps. It is recommended that you remove inactive apps and suspicious ones.
Protect your password – The best way to protect your password is by not sharing it with anyone. It is advisable to use a different password for every social media account. This way, if one of your social media accounts gets compromised, the hacker will not have access to your other accounts.
Use a strong password – Create a secure and strong password using eight to 10 characters, combining upper and lower case letters, and adding at least one number. It is also recommended that you change your password every six months.
Use a unique password; preferably one that does not come from the dictionary. Do not use your name or birthday as part of your password. Do not use three or more numbers in a row.
Always log out – Make it a habit to log out from your social media accounts especially on mobile and other handheld devices. In case your gadget gets lost, strangers will not be able to access your account.
Photo from Pixabay. Public domain.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a mom to a charming boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.