Cybercrimes are on the increase the world over, and social media accounts are a big target for cybercriminals. Should hackers gain unauthorized access to your accounts, there’s no telling the level of damage they could cause.
If your account has been hacked, there’s a lot you can do to rescue the situation. But you’d need to act fast. At best, a hacked social media account could end up with a few embarrassing social media posts. At worst, though, you could be looking at identity theft, data loss, and hacked bank accounts.
Of course, changing your password is a necessary step should you lose your account to hackers. But more is needed if you’re to ensure that the hackers do not return. First, you must be able to find out what led to the hack and what has been affected. Then, you need to take extra steps to ensure your account safety and integrity.
Before we go ahead to discuss measures required to keep your account safe, it’s important that you’re able to tell if your account is already at risk. Sometimes, these signs are rather obvious. Mostly, though, they can be easy to miss, especially if the hacker doesn’t make any major change to your account.
How do you deal with a social media hack? Thankfully, different social media platforms recognize the seriousness of this threat and have measures in place to help you handle them. If you think your account has been compromised, here are some provisions to follow:
Pro Tip: If your social media account has been hacked and your passwords changed, chances are your attacker is in your email too. Before you begin taking the steps below to secure your account, make sure to also change your email password.
Facebook allows you review your account to see if it’s been compromised. You can see where you’ve been logged in by checking the security and login section. This will tell you if your account has been used from an unknown location. If you noticed your password has been changed, use the forgot password option on your sign in page. And if that doesn’t work, send them a report that your account is compromised and follow the directions they provide.
You may also check the Facebook’s help page for hacked accounts to see Facebook recommended best practices.
If you’ve tried accessing your Instagram account to no avail, and have also found it difficult using the forgot password feature, Instagram makes provision for you to get in touch with them. Instagram’s process involves you getting in touch with them and verifying your identity so they can help you secure your account. Simply follow the steps on the Instagram Help page for your specific device.
You may also check out Instagram’s guidelines for dealing with and preventing a hack.
Has your Twitter account been compromised? If you can neither log into your account nor successfully recover your password using the forgot password feature, visit the Twitter Help Center immediately. Under ‘Login and account’, select ‘Hacked account’. You’d be required to include your username and mail address. Simply follow the instructions provided to secure your account.
Again, you can check Twitter’s Help page for guidelines to dealing with a suspected account hack.
While we do not cover every social media site on this list, it’s important to note that most social media platforms have recommended steps for dealing with a hack. They also have support channels that help you recover your account. Seek out the provisions of your affected platform and work with them to secure your account.
Besides the platform-specific advice provided below, there are other important steps you can take to secure your account – regardless of the platform. These measures not only help you regain control of your device, they also prevent future attacks from happening. They include:
Although hackers may sometimes gain access to your account using a bit of social engineering, they’re more likely to steal your password through phishing. This involves installing a virus on your PC and using it to scrape your passwords. Do NOT change your passwords without first confirming your device isn’t infected. Otherwise, your attacker will have full access despite the password change. If your scan reveals any dangerous files, remove them and restart your PC.
The easiest way to lock out hackers from your account is by using a strong password that’s difficult to guess. Do NOT use only your name or a very simple combination of your name and birth year as password. Your password should contain a mixture of lower case and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If possible, make your password for every account unique.
Otherwise known as two-step verification, this feature is available on most social media platforms. Once enabled, it adds an extra layer of security to your account through an additional security check beyond your username and password. This may be in the form of a required one-time password sent to your phone, or your fingerprint, or even a security question.
Pro Tip: You may find details on two-factor authentication in the security settings of your account. If lost, make a search on how this can be enabled for your particular social media site.
Third-party apps provide some of the biggest vulnerabilities to your account. Many times, we carelessly authorize other apps without making sure what access you’re giving them. Anyone who breaches that app can easily breach your account also. Review your list of permitted third-party apps. If you find apps that you can’t remember permitting, remove it immediately. Also remove apps that you no longer use. And if you find apps that have more permissions than you can stand, remove them too.
Hackers who are able to change your password likely also have access to your email. They may also adjust your mail settings to forward any mail from your social platform out of your account. This means you won’t be able to receive any correspondence from your platform. Be sure to look at your email forwarding settings to see that all is well. Also look out for auto-responders that may turn your emails into spam. Check your email signature to be sure there isn’t any hidden code. And be sure to change your password.
One of the most critical steps to preventing a future hack is identifying the cause of the original hack. Some of the most common hack techniques today include:
Keeping your account from potential hacks is an ongoing affair. A critical step to keeping your account safe is ensuring your personal data doesn’t find its way to the public space. Keeping personal details private is a great first step.
You can further protect these personal details by using a VPN. Armed with military-grade 256-bit encryptions, these pieces of software keep your personal data safe when connecting over unsafe public networks. They also protect your data by keeping out malware and viruses when you unwittingly visit unsafe websites.
Unsure which VPN will be best for your needs? Check out this list of the safest, most secure VPNs of 2020.