Human interaction is the element that makes social networks so great, and businesses use it to connect with their user bases on an individual level. This human connection is also a vector used by hackers to get access to classified information, as well as access to internal networks and data.
Such techniques are known as social engineering hacks. This is when hackers present themselves as trusted and friendly individuals or businesses to get their targets to disclose privileged and sensitive information. This tactic requires lots of research on the target to be successful, and the attack if often specifically aimed at individuals who have low-level access within their organisation, as this is enough to get access to everything else once they are in.
Research and reconnaissance include scanning the targets online behaviours and patterns, and social media accounts are a treasure trove of information. This is why it’s so important that all employees keep their social media accounts secure. The following seven tips will help keep social media accounts safe from hackers:
#1 Avoid Taking Part in the Things that Have Your Personal Details
Do you know all those various quizzes that “analyse” your social media account to tell you which “Game of Thrones” character are you most like, or tell you what kind of salad you are? How about some extensive personality tests that ask you to disclose super specific information about yourself to tell you what type of personality you are?
Always make sure to check what type of information you reveal and authorise access to. Many of them will require you to allow access to all your online images, your whole friend list, or your bio and personal information that might include phone numbers and emails. Only use such things if you can be 100% sure that the information you share will be used solely for marketing purposes and not compromise the security of your account.
Do you remember the story about an Android flashlight app that just asked for too much access? This is exactly how your data could become available to hackers and used against you.
#2 Increase Your Password Security
Password strength is what makes or breaks the security of your social media accounts. First of all, make sure to use a strong password. The holy trinity of strong passwords is a combination of the following:
- Lower- and uppercase letters
- Special characters
Have at least 8 or more characters in your password, and never use personal details and information like your kid’s names or birthdays in your passwords, as this makes access easier. To minimise the risk of being hacked, change your password regularly and never use the same password for multiple accounts. If you have trouble remembering all your passwords, use a trustworthy password manager instead.
#3 Understand Your Privacy Settings
Once something is on the web, it stays there forever. Your online behaviours can be tracked, and most people don’t think they are valid targets to be tracked online, so they will reveal too much on too many public places.
Imagine sharing your personal or work email, where you live, or images of your kids and your home to any stranger you meet on the street. It would be quite reckless, wouldn’t it? This is exactly what many people are doing online when they don’t think about their privacy settings and post publicly on their social media accounts.
When using Facebook or any other social media site, make sure to limit your posts and images to your friends only. If you wish to share something publicly, always ensure that it can’t be something used to get access to your accounts or to follow your actions online. Also be wary of friend requests from people you don’t know – chances are, at least one of them might just be trying to get access to your information.
#4 Up Your Account Security
A strong password is just a first step towards a safer account. Wherever possible, use additional security in form of two- or multi-factor authentication (2FA or MFA) – they will ask you for an additional code that’s generated just for you once you type in your login credentials. This way, if someone manages to crack your password, they will not get any further because they won’t have the code they need.
#5 Use Quality Antivirus Software
Make sure to have good antivirus protection on your PC that will not only regularly scan your PC, but also monitor your online activity. Such suites will immediately let you know if there’s an infected link or attachment in your emails or social media messages and quarantine it before you could click on it by mistake.
#6 Only Install Apps from Trusted Sources
Since there’s limited access to good antivirus software for mobile phones, stay safe by only installing apps from trusted sources, such as the Google Play or Apple’s App Store. Apple, in particular, is very strict when it comes to what apps are allowed on their store, and they do a full scan and inspection of every app before it can be approved and published in their store.
#7 Log Out of Devices and Close Old Accounts
If there are some accounts you are not using anymore, it doesn’t mean they are safe from hackers. Always close all old accounts you are not using anymore to make sure hackers don’t get access to them and use them without your knowledge.
Also, make sure to log in on trusted devices and on trusted networks only, and log out of all your active sessions regularly. This will help those services recognise anomalies in your login patterns and detect a possible breach easier.
Have a proactive approach towards your social media security and you will be a very hard target for anyone trying to get access to your accounts.