From LinkedIn to Instagram, social media accounts are how we connect, pass the time and present ourselves to the world. However, the platforms on which we share our lives can quickly become a security risk if we are not careful. Ensuring you have the right amount of protection when it comes to social media is essential, or your online social media world can cause real-world threats.
Types of Social Media Attacks
Hacking on social media occurs when a third party gains access to your account without your permission. It is one of the most common cybersecurity threats on social media and can affect anyone. Hacking usually occurs after another cyberattack, such as phishing or ransomware.
The social media landscape is filled with fake accounts. These accounts sometimes use catfishing to lure people into online relationships. Always be careful about who you talk to online and who you choose to give information to or even meet up with in person. Fake accounts can lead to phishing attempts and personal safety threats.
Social engineering manipulates people into accidentally giving up private information or account access. Approach direct messages with caution and never provide information that is not public, which could be used against you in a phishing scam.
When you download an app and accept its terms, you may be giving it access to all the data on your device. Depending on the default settings, social media apps could be accessing your camera and microphone and scraping your phone for information, even when you are not using them.
Unable to Log In
Hackers will often change account passwords and settings to lock you out of your own account. If you are suddenly unable to log in or cannot access your account from a different device, you have likely been locked out.
Strange Posts or Messages
If you notice posts or messages on your account that you did not write, someone else is accessing your account.
Strange Friend Requests
If you start receiving friend requests from people you do not know, it is likely someone is using your profile for alternative purposes.
Feedback from Friends
Friends may tell you they are receiving strange or spammy messages from your account. If this happens, someone is likely posing as you to garner trust in a phishing campaign.
Be careful what apps you download and use
Use a strong, unique password for each account
Keep track of all your accounts and close accounts you do not use anymore
Turn on 2-factor authentication when available
Disable the auto login function
Regularly review and adjust security and privacy settings for social media apps
Never share personal information, such as credit card numbers, phone numbers or home addresses
Do not share vacation stories until you are back home
Turn off geotagging so your location cannot be tracked
Only post things you are okay with being on the internet forever
Never feel bad declining a friend request
Know each app's terms of service since your posts may become the property of the app
What to do
If your social media account has been hacked:
- Immediately change your password
- Turn on 2-factor authentication to avoid future hacking
- Report unauthorized access to the platform provider
- Alert your contacts to be on the lookout for spoofed accounts
- Watch for suspicious activity on your account
- Delete any harmful or offensive content from your account
- Change all similar login details on other accounts