For a hacker, social media accounts are like candy stores- they are relatively easy to hack and are filled with information on the personal lives of users.
Despite this fact, social media is still widely popular. So how can you use social media platforms yet still keep safe from hackers? The very basics are; strong passwords and avoid sharing your personal details so freely.
A hacker gaining access to your account isn’t as simple as just that. Once they gain access, they have all your personal data to use as they see fit. They would also be aware of your dwellings, your family, workplace and where you go.
To protect yourself from hackers, cybercrime experts have shared valuable advice that could save you from a greater disaster.
“One of the most popular ways for hackers to gain access to your data is through emails. Someone will send you an email with an attachment that you must open. The attachment could be a script that installs malware on your computer, collects data, and delivers it to the hacker. Some scripts may erase your files, among other things. Also, before clicking on a hyperlink in an email, hover over it to make sure the URL is correct. Do not click if it appears to be shady.
“If you don't know who the sender is, don't open the attachment. Before you open a file, double-check its kind. Because file extensions can be problematic at times, be sure your antivirus software is set to scan for email attachments.”
Daniel Foley, Founder of a Daniel Foley Marketing Agency
“The majority of people use the same password for all of their accounts. Use different passwords for different accounts. Make distinct passwords. I understand that remembering passwords is challenging. Enable any app or website that offers secure logins, such as face recognition in apps. Did you know that the following are the top ten most popular passwords? 123456, 123456789, qwerty, password, 111111, 12345678, abc123, 1234567, password1, 123456. Simply put, don't use them. Don't use passwords like Password1, Password123, or password123.
“Password123 was discovered to be the most commonly used password in a study conducted by a cybersecurity organization. Make sure to update any company-issued default passwords. Change your passwords every few months, if not sooner.”
Adam Harris, Co-Founder Best Tool
“I see so many friends share their information wide and far and they wonder why their information is readily available to people. Do not succumb to the temptation of joining in the conversation with any of those trending community queries - linking your name and birth date to some words that reveal your gangsta name or so forth. Whether it be what you ate, your mother's maiden name, something about your childhood such as where you grew up or something you loved, this is all information that people are gleaning from you should they want to find it.
“I also feel like these predictive text ones reveal a lot about people as well as google tailors that predict your personal searches and so by sharing all these funny little things, you're actually sharing a whole lot more than you realize.”
Andrew Taylor, Director Net Lawman
“The majority of websites and apps that contain sensitive or financial information now offer two-factor or multi-factor authentication. You must enable a website or app before you can use it. That means you'll get a confirmation email or text message in addition to your email and password before you can log in. I realize this is an extra step, but please enable it. Verifying text messages is not difficult. I've set up two-factor authentication for my bank and financial accounts. That means I have to validate a PIN SMS to my phone every time I log into my account.”
Kate Libby, Founder Best Kids
“Public networks, such as those found at airports, are frequently insecure. Do not use public networks to access your key accounts unless necessary. Hackers are also attracted to tourist attractions and private house rentals. Some hackers have installed tracking software on household routers. Avoid using untrusted networks to access your bank accounts or personal information.”
Michelle Mayers, CEO of Best Cat
“Last but not least, keep your system up to speed with the newest patches and security updates. Patches and upgrades for operating systems like Windows are released regularly. Check for updates and make sure you're up to date. You can turn on Auto Updates to have your operating system install and update security updates for you.
“Use modern browsers instead of older ones. New browsers are improving their ability to detect and prevent fishing attacks. Get the most recent version of your browser. Another key requirement is anti-virus software. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and has the latest patches and upgrades.”
Jeff Cooper, Manager at Messagely
“In my opinion, you can keep your accounts safe from hacking by limiting your account's access. Managing social media may quickly turn into a full-time job, especially as a business grows. There are messages and comments to respond to, as well as research, trend tracking, and content creation. You should engage an individual or a small team, depending on the size of your organization) to handle your social media accounts to preserve your firm's security. Anyone with access to the company's social media account poses a security risk. A hacker can take advantage of an open security risk by logging in on an unsecured network or clicking on the wrong link just once.
“By limiting the number of people who have access, you reduce the chances of making a security mistake on the Internet. Another significant advantage of restricting social media access is that a small group of individuals may concentrate on the marketing and social media communications. This provides for a more tailored approach and easier tracking of metrics.”
Edward Mellett, Founder/Co-Founder WikiJob.co.uk
“Firstly, make your social login 2FA (two-factor authentication). Many social platforms now enable 2FA, which usually means you receive a text message when you log in, just to check that it's really you. You probably have this set up with your online banking already and it works exactly the same.” (James Cash)
“Also, consider anything that you post on social media to be accessible to anyone, anywhere - including criminals. While you may only be connected to people that you believe you trust, it is very easy to accidentally post globally or for friend's accounts to be hacked. For example, would you tell a burglar that you have just safely arrived on holiday for the next two weeks? This type of post is an open invitation to burglars. Also, if you were burgled and had posted a holiday photo, some home insurance companies would not payout. Only publish holiday photos once you have arrived safe back home.” (James Cash)
“We all enjoy doing Facebook quizzes, but be careful. They often reveal words that we would include in passwords or security questions, such as your maiden name, first car or pet's name. The apps that conduct the questionnaires will not only get a copy of answers, but also your social accounts personal data too. Which leads me on to my next tip- don't use your real date of birth when setting up social accounts and definitely don't publicly show your date of birth on your social profile. For starters, social networking databases get breach quite regularly. If this happens, your data could be on sale on the dark web for cybercriminals to buy from anywhere in the world.”
James Cash is Managing Director and primary consultant at Superfast IT, providing technology and cybersecurity services to small businesses.