In observance of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Bitdefender offers a series of articles on hot topics such as how to properly secure your social accounts or how to stay on top of the increasingly pervasive online threats. We encourage you to bookmark this blog or connect with Bitdefender on Facebook or Twitter to receive follow-on articles (filled with security tips) as they are published.
Whether you use your social media accounts for business or to connect with friends and family, getting your account hacked is a painful invasion. From vacation photos to personal conversations or check-ins to places you visited, social networks know everything about us. Keeping intruders out is difficult and confusing, so we have put up the ultimate guide to securing your accounts and making sure you are in control.
- Create a unique, difficult-to-guess password for each social account
We know that finding a solid, easy-to-remember password is difficult, as it must be complex enough to resist dictionary attacks. Avoid using personal information such as birthdays, family or pet names, numbers in a pattern, and especially the word “password”. Go for a mixture of lower case and capital letters, numbers and punctuation. If this is too complex to remember, store it in a password manager. Once you’ve got your password, we know you’d like to re-use it everywhere, but don’t.
- Add two-factor authentication to every social account that supports it
Major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube or Google+ support two-step authentication. Besides your username and password, you have to enter a one-time password that gets sent as a short message to your mobile device paired with your account. Even if your username and password leaks out, they won’t open the door to anybody without the one-time password.
Adding your phone to the account can not only prevent illicit log-in attempts, but it also comes in handy if you need to recover your account if you ever get locked out.
- Constantly review your account activity
Many social networks send notifications when your account is logged into from a new device, when account information is changed or when multiple failed logins are detected. These notifications are sent via e-mail or text, depending on your preferences. Keep an eye on account activity, as any modifications are the first telltale signs that somebody is attempting to get in.
- Be mindful of what you click
Sometimes, it’s you who lends a helping hand to cyber-criminals attempting to hijack your account. Under various pretexts, hackers attempt to scare you into following a link (usually sent in a phishing message) and take “immediate action” to avoid account suspension or paying for the service. If you heed the call, you end up on a login page that is the exact replica of the social network’s login form. When you fill in the required information, though, it’s hackers who get it, not the social network. Never follow ultimative requests under any circumstance; if the network wants to communicate with you, they would do it through the app’s notification system rather than via e-mail.
- Review your connected apps and browser addons
At some point, you might have granted third-party applications such as online games access to your feed so they can update your friends on your acheivements. Some of these applications can read your profile and post on your behalf. Revoke access to applications that you longer use, by going to the dedicated section for apps in your social network’s contol panel.
The same holds true for browser extensions. A rogue browser extension has unfettered access to your browser content and can modify it in real time. That browswer extension you installed to turn Facebook from blue to red can also post messages and malicious links to your friends without you even knowing it.
While our list is not exhaustive, the five tips in this article should be enough to keep your account safe from intruders. Since the threat landscape is continuously changing and hackers always find new ways of getting around defenses, make sure you bookmark this blog to get updates on new developments.