Online Security

5 Ways to Keep Your Social Media Accounts Safe From Hackers

Taking even the most basic security steps makes it far less likely hackers will make the effort to break in.
5 Ways to Keep Your Social Media Accounts Safe From Hackers
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Social media is such a critical part of business these days, making it extremely important that you keep your accounts safe. Imagine if someone gained access to your accounts? It would be devastating and it could potentially have a severe negative impact on your business.

Things like:

  • Stealing your account and changing the handle in order to take your hard earned followers.
  • Sending out compromised links to your followers.
  • Attempting to phish personal information from your customers.

Avoid putting your social media accounts at risk by implementing these five simple tips.

1. Be selective with third-party applications.

When you use a third-party application, such as a social media post scheduler, they will require access to your account. Make sure you are only authorizing legitimate applications to gain access. And be sure to read the details of what exactly you are authorizing the particular application to gain access to.

Related: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself Against the Shocking State of Password Security

Some applications will only need minimum permissions, such as the ability to read and post content, so always read the fine print before granting access. It’s a good idea to login to all of your social media accounts and see what applications you are currently allowing to access your profiles. This resource has links for popular social networks to help you determine what you are authorizing -- revoke access to anything you don’t trust or any applications you currently aren’t using.

2. Use strong passwords.

Remembering passwords considered to be “strong” can be a pain in the rear. Even Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wasn’t too fond of difficult passwords -- until he was hacked.

His Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts were compromised and his password was later revealed to be "Dadada." This just goes to show you that the majority of people don’t take their password strength too seriously. Most people think, “It will never happen to me.”

Well, it can happen, so make sure you use a password that’s difficult to crack. Tools such as How Secure Is My Password will help you rate your password strength. For example, it says it would take a computer 552 quadrillion years to crack the password “Secure100Password3!”

3. Install antivirus software.

Many internet service providers (ISPs) will provide some form of security protection -- you can compare local ISPs to see if there are better options available in your immediate area, or you can install an antivirus program, such as AVG, which does offer a free version. I would suggest going with the pro version, but if you are on a tight budget the free version is definitely better than no protection at all.

Related: Password Statistics: The Bad, the Worse and the Ugly (Infographic)

If you want to be extra cautious, tools like Vibbi allow you to download and backup all of your images and videos on Instagram -- this is especially convenient for brands that spend extra time and money editing custom content.

4. Enable two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication confirms a user's identity by utilizing a combination of two different components, typically the account password and a confirmation code, which is sent to the user via text message or email.

To be honest, anyone not taking advantage of this feature is asking for trouble. It’s worth the extra hassle to ensure that your accounts stay safe. Here are some guides that show you how to enable it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram

5. Move passwords to a management program.

LastPass is is program that remembers all of your passwords, forcing you to only remember one master password. With so many "difficult" to remember passwords, oftentimes you have to end up resetting your password, giving you yet another impossible-to-remember password to add to the mix. You can also sync the service across all of your browsers and devices.

Related: Why Your Password is Hackerbait (Infographic)

With so many social media accounts to manage, it’s often times laziness that causes us to use weak easy-to-remember passwords -- I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past, until a Facebook page we owned with more than 220,000 followers was hacked. The process to get it back lasted more than four months -- something I never want to have to endure again.