It’s the message that no one wants to receive: Your social media account has been hacked. Often, you get a message from a friend, asking why you posted something completely out of character — or even offensive. Other times, you may not even realize that you’ve been hacked, until it’s too late and the hackers have already gathered all of your personal information.
If you are like most people, you probably use your mobile device to access social media, and probably even more so than a desktop computer. If you do, you need to make sure to take extra precautions to protect your account.
1. Lock Your Mobile Device
One of the best ways to keep the data on your phone safe and secure — and that include social media accounts, contacts, and other personal information — is to lock your device using a passcode or finger scan. Enable your device’s settings to immediately lock down or erase all data on the device after a certain number of failed login attempts.
2. Install Antivirus Protection
The best way to protect your mobile device against malware, viruses, and other threats is to install antivirus protection on your mobile device. Studies show that the majority of viruses and malware are spread via social media, and that as many as 20 percent of links on Facebook contain malicious downloads. If you are going to be using your device for social media, you have to protect it.
3. Use Strong Passwords — And Log Out
The same password protocols that apply to using social media on a desktop apply to your mobile devices. Choose the strongest passwords you can think of (or better yet, use a password manager that will select them for you) and more importantly, log out of social media accounts when you aren’t using them. Sure, it’s easier to just tap on your Instagram app and see your feed, but if your device falls into the wrong hands, they too can tap on the app and see your feed. Don’t make it easy for criminals to access your stuff.
4. Don’t Use Social Media on Public Networks
Free Wi-Fi is great, but it can also be dangerous. Criminals can very easily “eavesdrop” on internet traffic on public networks, and see everything that you are doing on your device — including entering your social media passwords. If you must log in, be mindful of where you are and consider changing your passwords when you’re again on a secure network.
5. Be Careful About Clicking Links
Remember that statistic about 20 percent of links containing malicious content? When using social media on mobile, be mindful of what you click on. One of the reasons that social media attacks are so successful is that they rely on social engineering. In other words, the hackers are hoping you’ll trust a post because it came from a friend. Use good judgment when scrolling through your feed, and if something seems off, avoid it. Don’t be afraid to use the report feature, either; social media sites are as concerned about malware and hacking as you are, and reports help keep everyone safe.
Keeping your social media accounts from being hacked on your mobile device requires many of the same precautions you would use on a desktop. Keep your privacy settings locked down, avoid accepting requests from strangers, be cautious about links, and secure your device at all times. When you do, you are less likely to fall victim to a hacker — and your private information will stay secure.