With all the talk about internet security and social media accounts being hacked, it’s more important than ever to keep your information safe. If you’re worried about your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts being hacked, there are many things you can do to protect yourself from potential hackers. Below are five dos and don’ts of securing your social accounts.
1) Do: Create a unique password
Every one of your social accounts should have a unique password—it’s important that you don’t reuse passwords across multiple sites. Make sure your passwords are at least 12 characters long and include a variety of upper-and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols (like %&^*#@) and most importantly: no birth dates. Instead, use an app like 1Password or LastPass to generate random passwords for all your accounts that are hard to crack—without having to memorize them. If you want even more protection, use two-factor authentication wherever possible. Also consider updating your privacy settings: Just about everyone has a Facebook profile these days but just because it’s available to everyone doesn’t mean it should be publicly visible.
2) Do: Use two-factor authentication
Turn on two-factor authentication for any social accounts that support it. Typically, you’ll be asked to enter a security code sent via text or generated by an app such as Google Authenticator. This extra layer of protection makes it tougher for hackers to access your accounts even if they guess your password. Keep in mind that many apps offer two-factor authentication, but don’t support every platform (for example, Facebook uses a different system than Twitter). Make sure your key accounts are protected before it’s too late. Don’t: Use public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi can be convenient, but using it comes with risks. If someone is snooping around on a public network, they could potentially gain access to your personal information—even if you’re not connected to their network. It’s better to use mobile data when possible and use Wi-Fi only when necessary. Also, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) while accessing public networks like coffee shops or airports—this encrypts all data traveling between your device and the Internet so others can’t see what you’re doing online.
3) Do: Set up alerts on your account
It’s important to be aware of your social media accounts. It’s a good idea to set up email or text alerts for any suspicious activity. You can find instructions on how to set up alerts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more here . And you should also enable two-factor authentication on all your social media accounts. Here are instructions on how to do that: Google Authenticator (Android / iOS) Facebook Linkedin Instagram Snapchat Tumblr WhatsApp Yahoo! Mail Yandex Mail Zoho Mail Don’t: Share your password with anyone: If someone knows your password, they have access to everything you post on that account. So never share it with anyone—even friends or family members who might need help logging in from time to time. If someone needs access to an account and asks for your password, tell them no—it’s not worth it. Also make sure to use different passwords across each of your accounts; if one gets hacked, it won’t affect others.
4) Do: Create a security system
The biggest mistake you can make when securing your social accounts is not having a system in place to do so. If you’re serious about protecting your accounts, you should consider investing in software to alert you whenever there is activity on one of your social networks that isn’t you. These services go by different names (privacy dashboards, firewalls, etc.), but they all accomplish pretty much the same thing—monitoring for suspicious activity. Once you’ve installed it, you simply log into your account as usual and let it work its magic. Most systems will send you an email or text message if anything out of the ordinary happens on any of your social networks. Some even have features that allow them to lock down your account if something seems off. It may seem like overkill at first, but once someone gains access to one of your accounts, they could easily gain access to others.
5) Don’t: Share your passwords with anyone
Most people share their passwords with their family, friends, significant others and coworkers—which is a huge no-no. While you may trust these people with your social media accounts today, you never know what could happen in a few years or months. You wouldn’t want an old friend who doesn’t like how you live your life to take control of your account without permission—so don’t let it happen at all. If someone asks for your password, tell them No way! Then show them how to access your account on their own so they can see that it’s not hard. (But still be sure they won’t accidentally post something embarrassing!)
It’s tempting to share passwords with loved ones, but doing so is always risky. Remember: Anyone who has access to your social media profile also has access to any messages that person receives through those accounts—and messages can contain sensitive information about things like where you are or what time you’ll be home.