The 21st century has brought exciting innovations to the forefront, particularly the ability to associate with almost anyone, anywhere, at any time. In regards to social media, this means having the ability to share not only information, photos, and videos but to also join in professional networks. Irrespective of why you may use them, the probable risks of being hacked are the same.
We have all seen articles from friends casually writing “I have been hacked.” But the severity of getting your social networking accounts infiltrated goes far beyond using a few pictures that are stolen or someone writing uncharacteristic upgrades. There’s plenty of personal information readily available in our profiles and individuals with malicious intent can use this to their benefit to not just do serious damage to you, but also to friends in your network.
You may remember a Facebook phishing attack that circulated in April of this past year. Users received a message (allegedly ) from Facebook’s Ads group, stating that they were in breach of its Terms of Service and when they didn’t log in and confirm their identification, their accounts would be closed. The message was fake and users that logged were offering their credentials up to hackers with malicious intent. Additionally, it made it much easier to spread the message, via Facebook Messenger, to the user’s friend list. You can check out Facebook’s hints on how to avoid phishing scams.
The number of records that are hacked may actually astound you. Back in 2012, a data breach set what was initially considered to be 6.5 million LinkedIn user accounts in danger. In 2016, they revealed that the number was really 117 million.
You may be thinking, “well I do not really have much to hide, I do not care if I get hacked.” Consider it, however: if you looked through the content of your emails, personal messages, texts, Whatsapp messages, and much more, would there not be personal things you do not want to be stolen? Things like photos and videos which may be manipulated, financial information such as tax receipts, medical information, addresses…the list continue on and on. The truth is that a whole lot of personal information lives online today, and it is fetching a pretty penny with hackers with malicious intent.
STARS, THEY’RE JUST LIKE US
Think no more than the regular Jane and John Doe are subject to strikes? Think again. Both leaders and celebrities in the tech sector have been prey to such hacks. Poor Mark Zuckerberg has been hacked on both Twitter and Pinterest, double! Other sufferers to similar hacks include Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Quora hacked), Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, Taylor Swift (Twitter and Instagram hacked), Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (Twitter hacked) and Justin Bieber (Twitter hacked).
Gaining access does not necessarily occur through social programs. Take, for instance, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes’ story. Hackers gained access to Holmes’ Twitter account through an app he had not used in years. Having previously linked this program to his Twitter accounts, after they got through, it enabled them to also get entry to Twitter. Holmes says the experience was “scary, humbling and embarrassing.”
I’VE BEEN HACKED, WHAT DO I DO NOW?
If you are not able to log into your Facebook accounts, you can ask a friend to report your accounts for you here. Scroll down to the section, “I think my friend’s account was hacked” and pick the selection that best fits your situation. You may find similar aid for Twitter here.
Read also: What’s the Price of a Free Internet?
FROM OUR EXPERTS, TO YOU
We requested our in-house experts to provide some guidance on staying safe in the face of social networking data breaches. Here is what they had to say.
Security Expert, Paul Pereira-Brunner: “In the case of social networking accounts, you need to make absolutely certain the email they’re connected to has as much protection as possible. It is a single point of failure…since everybody gets their password reset emails there. That is the major way people get in.” Utilize security concerns as a backup for logins? Great. But do not use logic and really answer the question. Pereira-Brunner suggestions also producing individual passwords for all those. Finally, use a password manager, such as LastPass and modify the master password at least once a month.
Director of Malware Lab, Andrew Browne: Pick services offering two-factor authentication. What does this mean? When you log in with your password, then you’ll be prompted to enter a unique code (normally sent via text or voice telephone) prior to being allowed access to your accounts. This helps particularly when logging in through new apparatus or from a different site. It helps confirm that it is really you — and when it is not, protects your account from being hacked. Want to test if you’re account has been compromised? Try Have I Been Pwned. Use complex passwords which are at least 15 characters long, a mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters which aren’t words from the dictionary or phrases associated with your own life (spouse/child’s name, etc). Do not share your passwords with anyone and do not reuse them for many accounts. If you find out your account was compromised and may still log in, change the password immediately and empower two-factor authentication. However, “if you can not get into the account, contact the agency’s service team straight away to find out what your options are. Normally they’ll request information about where you are, recent action on the accounts or other information which may help them identify your account actually has been compromised.”