Though definitely not an every day activity, but it has happened to most of us and will continue to happen – social media account hacked! There are several viruses, bots, scams out there to lure you into getting your social media account compromised. How we end up getting our social media account hacked may vary, but the end result is quite similar in most of the cases. Rather than being red-faced and profoundly spitting out apologies, it always pays to be prepared on what to do if your social media account gets hacked.
Symptoms that your account has been compromised
Sometimes it can be hard to tell that your account is compromised, especially if the attacker is only making small changes or sending out a message from time to time. However, in most of the cases, it is quite easy to identify the symptoms that your accout has been hacked. Some common signs of your account being compromised are:
- Automated likes, shares, tweets or retweets, follows/unfollows or friend requests.
- Changes to the profile or pictures on the account
- Status updates/tweets that you didn’t make
- Unexpected email/push notifications from the social network.
- Private messages being posted to your friends (this can be hard to spot unless someone points it out to you)
- Purchases appearing that you didn’t make or new games/apps being added \
Irrespective of your “internet know-how and awareness,” as a rule of thumb, you always have to be careful and watchful of what you do when on the internet – it is like an ocean out there and you have no clue on what all might be there. You should always pay attention when using social media credentials like Facebook or Twitter to login to third party websites. While many websites take advantage of this API provided by Facebook, Twitter etc and save you the trouble of signing up with them – quite a few sites deploy what is known as a phishing attack.
Phishing attempt deploy a compromised link (such as in a direct message or chat) and ask you to log in using a fake login screen. Once this is done, attackers are able to log in as you on the social network and change your information or share messages from your account. The easiest way is by checking the address bar in your browser matches the site you expected to visit, then checking if it also has a matching security certificate. If you wanted to visit udemy.com and instead you end up visiting udemt.com – you might be gearing up for a ride. A common technique to hide this from visitors is by making use of URL shortening services like bit.ly.
When you authenticate an application to your social media account you’re putting all your trust in someone else’s ability to manage your social network. Even if their intentions are good, sometimes they loose out to hackers and in turn end up compromising your account. A good example of this is when Buffer — a social post scheduling tool — was hacked this week end causing thousands of personal and corporate accounts to tweet weight loss tips.
Many applications that promise more followers for free on Twitter or more Facebook likes for your Facebook Page actually end up spamming all your existing followers with links, for example, so ensure that what you are authenticating is well regarded before using it. Revoking applications you no longer use is a good way to prevent anything happening to your account before it happens.
What to do if your account is compromised
Being red-faced and having to spit out one apology and explanation after your social media account gets hacked is a common activity. We recommend following these simple steps to get over it quickly
- Change your password immediately and make sure it is unique. Also change the password of your email account, which is your “recovery account.”
- Visit the applications page of the social network and remove any apps you don’t recognize or it the situation is grave enough – revoke access to all the applications.
- Ensure your email address is still set to the default of the account so that you’re able to sign in
- Run a virus scan on your PC to ensure you aren’t infected with a virus
- Send updates/tweets to your contacts to let them know that your account has been compromised.
- Worst case scenario – Contact support via email or phone:
There are a few other things you can do to prevent attacks on your account. The first of these is rather annoying, but your best best against disaster – use unique passwords for each account and never share passwords across networks. Very few people do this and therefore face the tsunami of cyber attack. Having unique passwords for each account will stall the attackers from getting to your account seamlessly.
Take advantage of the two factor authentication, which is deployed by most of the social networks now-a-days. This is a system which requires both your password and a number generated by a device (such as your phone) to get access, which makes it almost impossible for an attacker to break into your account (unless they have a pre-authenticated application!).
All in all, if you’re careful who you give the keys to your account to it can be easy to protect yourself online. It just requires a little forethought.