8 Tips for Securing Your Social Media Accounts
It’s estimated that more than 90 percent of U.S. businesses use social media to build brand awareness, engage with customers, conduct market research, and increase sales. Naturally, hackers have taken notice.
Social media account hijacking increased by 1,000 percent in 2022, according to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). Other studies suggest that as many as 1.5 billion accounts are hacked every month.
Instagram and Facebook accounts are favored targets. According to the ITRC report, 85 percent of survey respondents said their Instagram accounts were compromised, while 25 percent said their Facebook accounts had been hijacked. Those two platforms, along with TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn, have all experienced multiple breaches over the past decade, cumulatively exposing the personal data of billions of users.
Social Media Cybercrime
Account takeovers aren’t mere inconveniences — victimized companies often experience significant damages. Twenty-seven percent of victims told the ITRC they lost sales revenue when they lost control of their social media. Criminology researchers at the U.K.’s University of Surrey estimate social media cybercrime costs businesses at least $3.25 billion each year.
Short of abandoning an incredibly valuable business tool, organizations must take steps to protect their online presence and maintain their brand reputation. Here are some steps all organizations should take to enhance the security of their social media accounts:
Create strong and unique passwords. Passwords should include special characters, numbers and even misspelled words to make them harder to crack. Passphrases are even better. These are strings of words that are longer than passwords, typically at least 15 characters. Use a unique password for each account and avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names.
Enable two-factor authentication. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification step, such as a temporary code sent to your mobile device, along with your password.
Think before you click. Phishing attacks are the most common method hackers use to access social accounts. Be extremely cautious about clicking links or downloading attachments from unfamiliar or suspicious sources. Don’t provide login information or personal details through unsolicited emails or text messages.
Don’t overshare. Avoid providing more details than necessary. Sharing information about your personal life such as relationships, friendships, family matters or even your location can give malicious actors important clues they can use to gain access to your accounts. It’s also a good idea to turn off geotagging and location sharing on apps in your phone’s privacy and security settings.
Be cautious with business information. When promoting your business online, consider how the information might be used. Sharing too many details can make it easier for cybercriminals to gather intelligence they can exploit to craft convincing phishing emails or gain unauthorized access to business systems and accounts.
Turn on privacy settings. Most social media platforms give you the option of making your profile and posts visible to friends only. Choosing this setting keeps hackers from seeing what you’re doing and posting.
Restrict access from third-party apps. Review and manage the permissions granted to third-party applications that have access to your social media accounts. Remove any unnecessary or outdated applications to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
Monitor account activity. Regularly check your social media accounts for any suspicious activity. Some platforms allow you to set up notifications for account logins, password changes or any other account activity to spot potential security breaches.
1.5 billion social media accounts are hacked every month.
Protect Your Social Media
Businesses can and should use social media to enhance their brand identity and connect with customers, but you must understand the risks. These suggestions can help you utilize social media effectively while protecting sensitive information.
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