One day in 2013, users noticed something awfully fishy about the @BurgerKing Twitter account: The BK logo had mysteriously been swapped out for the McDonald’s logo, and the name of the account had been changed to ‘McDonalds’. In addition, a tweet went out stating that the company had been sold to McDonalds because, “the whopper flopped”.
If this sounds suspicious, that’s because it is. BK’s Twitter account had been compromised, and the hackers were having some fun at Burger King’s expense. This went on for an hour, until BK finally managed to get the account suspended.
While this is perhaps an extreme example, it does remind us that we shouldn’t take the security of our social media accounts for granted.
8 strategies on how to make your social media accounts secure:
1. Use a password manager
One of the simplest ways for hackers to gain access to your accounts is to get ahold of your social media login info and passwords. Once they have this info, the sky’s the limit in terms of the harm they can cause.
Experts recommend choosing a long and complex password. The problem is, this will not only prevent hackers from figuring it out, it will also likely prevent YOU from remembering it! Using a password manager like 1Password can help. It will automatically create long, hack-proof passwords for everything you can imagine (social media accounts included), and all you have to do is remember ONE main password. Plug in that password, and 1Password will automatically log you in to your social media accounts. Virtually impossible for hackers to figure out, and virtually impossible for you to forget!
2. Avoid suspicious links
Another way hackers gain access to your private account info is through getting you to click on a link. By clicking on the link, malware is downloaded to your computer, giving hackers access to all your valuable info.
If you have ANY doubt that a link is legit, avoid it! Some red flags to look out for include:
- Shortened URLs
- Posts that don’t sound like your friend/colleague (e.g., “Click the link below for access to this FREE amazing video now!”)
- Emails from friends that aren’t personally addressed to you, OR that aren’t signed with their name
3. Protect your device when out and about
I highly recommend having password protection on all your internet-enabled devices. This is particularly important if you share your devices with others, or regularly take your devices outside the home or office (coffee shops, meetings, planes/trains, etc.).
Accidentally leaving your device behind is bad enough; but having it stolen and giving the thief unrestricted access to your personal info, including your social media accounts? That’s a recipe for disaster!
Something else you may not be aware of is that determined hackers can actually access your device from afar if you’re using public WIFI. To add an extra layer of protection, install a free browser extension like HTTPS Everywhere to switch most websites from HTTP (unsecured) to HTTPS (secured).
4. Cover your tracks when using public computers
Do you ever use a public computer to post to social media? Maybe it’s the public library computer, an internet café or even a friend’s device? If so, there are some things you should keep in mind:
- Always remember to log out of your social media accounts once you’re done using them
- Delete your browsing history
- NEVER click ‘Save password or login info’ if asked
- Consider using the ‘Browse privately’ option to access your social media accounts
5. Use Hootsuite to give access to employees without giving away login info
Having a dedicated social media team can be great, but it can also mean more chances at having your social media accounts hacked. All it takes is one employee leaving their password out, and your entire account can be compromised.
Using a social media management tool like Hootsuite can help you avoid this. Each individual user will have their own login info, but they will NOT have access to your main company password. Bonus: By assigning various levels of permission to your staff, you can reduce the impact if someone does gain access to one of your employee’s accounts.
6. Use a 2-step verification system
For certain social media platforms like Twitter, you can establish a 2-step verification system when logging into your social media account. This means that when you log in to your account you first have to type in the right password and then enter the verification code that is sent to your cell phone before you can even be logged in!
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google are just some of the sites that have this 2-step verification system.
7. Setup a passcode for your phone
I mentioned earlier that accidentally leaving your phone behind can be bad, but imagine if you didn't have a passcode set up on your phone! All the thief would need to do is swipe and have instant access to your information and social accounts.
One way to avoid this is to take advantage of the passcode setting available on most phones, which is normally a set of numbers or a particular swipe pattern.
Some phones even have a fingerprint lock that adds a whole new layer of security.
8. Turn off location services in your apps
What could be worse than getting your social accounts hacked? Someone being able to see where you are through the location services enabled on your apps. Certain apps recommend having the location services enabled, but many don't require it in order to work properly.
You can go into your Settings and change which apps have access to your location and if it's not absolutely necessary then I would suggest disabling the location so you can rest a little easier.
These 8 tips are simple to implement, but can save you from a number of compromising situations. I’d recommend taking the time now to make sure your social media accounts are secure, rather than having to clean up the mess left by a hacker!
How do you make your social media accounts secure? Share below!