We’ve all seen it. You’re scrolling through social media and suddenly someone you’ve followed for some time is consistently posting spam about a pair of knockoff sunglasses, accompanied by a link. Sometimes they show up in your feed, other times in your messages, but it never seems to go away until the account is reported.
More often than not, such spam ads are a sign that an account has been hacked.
But have you ever thought about what to do if it happens to you?
Luckily social media has some protocols in place for this situation. Let’s dive in.
How do social media accounts get hacked?
Before we talk about how to get your account back after being hacked, it’s good to know how hacks happen in the first place.
One of the easiest ways for hackers to get ahold of your account credentials is through recycled usernames and passwords. It’s especially common for people to reuse the same password for multiple websites to make them easier to remember, but this means hackers can gain access to all of those accounts by simply discovering that one password.
The issue is that not every website has the same standard when it comes to security. If hackers can spot even the smallest vulnerability, it can be exploited. This can give hackers access to your personal information, including credit card and social security numbers as well as your birthday and address.
Another popular way of hacking hardly involves any hacking at all: Duplicate accounts. It’s easy for not just hackers, but anyone to copy your social media profile, including all of your personal information along with your pictures and videos. With this mock profile, the hacker can take advantage of the people in your network. They can impersonate you and spam people with their ads and messages, so the hackers can steal your network’s information, too.
Avoid the headache of being hacked by employing safe social media practices.
What can you do about it?
Getting hacked can be a frustrating and damaging experience, but it’s not the end of the world. If you do become a victim, it’s best to act fast.
If your own account is hacked, the first thing you should do is change your password. You can click the “I forgot my password” button on any login screen, where it’ll tell you to input either your email address or phone number to receive a link where you can change your password to something more secure.
If you find that there is a duplicate of your account, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook among others have a “Report” feature. This will take you to a screen that asks you why you’re reporting the account. After you hit submit, it’ll alert the team at each respective company that an illegitimate account has been found, after which they’ll promptly take the account down usually within a few hours.
How to prevent being hacked
The best thing you can do about getting hacked is prevent yourself from getting hacked in the first place. Here are a few tips to do just that:
- Set a strong password and use a password manager.
- If something looks suspicious, it probably is.
- Use two-factor authentication.
- Avoid sharing passwords with friends.
- Don’t write down your passwords.
- Get your accounts verified if possible.
Safe practices like these will keep your information secure and prevent you from dealing with headaches in the future.