When was the last time you checked the privacy settings on your social media accounts? Once? Twice? Never? If you don’t check periodically, you run the risk of having your account hijacked by hackers.
What do you mean by “social media”?
Sites primarily used as a means of mass communication: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr… You could also think of them as virtual communities, each with different rules and tendencies.
Why should I bother securing my social media accounts?
Because having your account hijacked stinks. At best, it’s inconvenient to reset your passwords and notify your friends. At worst, it results in data loss, identity theft, and financial ruin.
But aren’t these sites private?
Nope. They have privacy settings, most of which aren’t on by default. But anyone can sign up on these sites, and anyone can pretend to be anyone else on them. They’re designed to share information, not keep it private. Which is why the idea of people sharing their entire life stories and that of their kids gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies. Social media sites aren’t private photo albums and diaries. They’re publicly-accessible news sites (and data aggregators for advertisers).
Why do hackers want to hijack me?
In short: money. Cybercrime is a multi-billion dollar global industry. With economies tanking and people out of work, the idea of making tons of cash through Internet scams is hard to resist. Through commandeering your account, cybercriminals sell everything from Internet pharmaceuticals to fake antivirus programs to Twitter followers using your hijacked identity. It’s the go-to crime of the 21st Century.
Should everyone protect their social media accounts?
Yes. Absolutely. There’s no excuse not to.
How can I protect my social media accounts?
Use strong passwords that are unique on every site
- How To Create Secure Passwords: Revised Edition (Tech Tips)
- Secure Password Management Tools (Tech Tips)
Double-check your privacy settings
- The Always Up-To-Date Guide To Managing Your Facebook Privacy (Lifehacker)
- Twitter: Keeping Your Account Secure
Report fake followers and inappropriate content
- How To Spot And Out-Fake Bogus Twitter Followers (NPR)
- What Happens When You Report Abuse To Facebook (Sophos Naked Security)
Verify links before sharing
Do you have questions about securing your social media account? Ask in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to Tech Tips by email and follow on Facebook. You can also follow @trionaguidry on Twitter.