An account on social media platforms is a very tempting target for hackers. Once they get access to it, they get to send spam, steal an identity, or even find out some sensitive data if they go through private messages. So it’s important to get control of your account back.
In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about social media hacks and provide you with steps you need to perform if you become a victim. Also, we will talk about actions you can take to prevent such a hack from happening.
If your account was hacked, it’s not enough to change the password. This situation requires a complex approach that will also prevent such a predicament from repeating.
Why should you worry about your account getting hacked?
Many users believe that if malefactors got access to their account, the worst thing that happens is that their friends receive spam messages. But in reality, the issue is much deeper. You can face serious consequences if your social media account was hacked.
Other accounts are in danger, too
It’s especially true if you use the same email and password for other websites, too. Hackers will try to use the same login details to get into your other accounts. And if your social media accounts are connected to other services, malefactors get quite a lot of freedom. For example, if they hacked your Facebook account you’re using to log into Instagram and numerous other services, including online shops, negative consequences will increase tremendously.
Your friends are in danger
Once malefactors have received access to your social media account, they can impersonate you and contact your friends asking for a loan, for example. Unsuspecting friends will be happy to help you (as they think), while actually, they will be sending money to hackers.
It’s not just about passwords
Having access to your account, malefactors can find out not only the password. They can go through your messages and look for some sensitive information they can make a profit on or use to blackmail you.
How to understand you were hacked?
While in most cases a social media platform would notify you about a new sign-in to your account, it doesn’t happen sometimes. Maybe you’ve turned off such notifications, or a platform doesn’t send them at all. So you might remain unaware about being a victim, especially if a malefactor acts subtly. Here are signs that indicate your account might’ve been hacked:
- You can see updates you don’t remember posting
- Your friends tell you about some messages you don’t remember sending or you can see sent messages you didn’t send
- There are new games or apps connected to your account
- You are getting notified about some changes made to your account
- You can see weird activity — for example, new unknown people on your friend list, you’re following accounts you don’t remember even seeing, some contacts are blocked, and so on.
How did you get hacked?
The method hackers might’ve used to get access to your account can hint at what compromised your safety. Then it will be easier to understand how to protect yourself from becoming a victim again.
Your account could get hacked because:
- Your device is infected
- The social media platform was hacked
- You didn’t update your software, and now it’s full of vulnerabilities
- You clicked a malicious link
- Your passwords are weak
- You’re using some third-party app that’s connected to this account, and the app was breached
What to do if you were hacked?
Now let’s see steps you need to take if you realized that your social media account has been hacked.
Scan your device for viruses
Run a checkup to see if your device is infected because hackers often use malware to get passwords. It will be useless to change a password if there is a virus.
Change the password
Do it for the hacked account and for all other websites where you’re using the same compromised account. Also, put effort into creating complex and different combinations. You can use a password manager to make it easier.
Use multi-factor authentication if available
Make it your rule — to use 2-step verification everywhere if it’s available. It adds a reliable layer of protection since it will be very difficult for hackers to access your phone to view the temporary code required for signing in.
Cut access for third-party services
Revoke permissions from all those third-party apps that are connected to your hacked account. Some of them might be going through an attack, and that’s how you’ve become a victim.
Update the system and apps
Check if there is an update for your device’s system and update all installed programs. This will eliminate vulnerabilities of outdated versions that malefactors often use to crawl into devices.
Let your friends know
If hackers were sending spam, your friends and family might already know that something is off. But it won’t hurt to tell them you were hacked so that you’re sure they don’t become victims, too, because of you.
See if your email settings were changed
If hackers got access to your email, they might’ve set it up to forward a copy of all your emails to malefactors. Also, check the signature for any leftover malicious links or codes. And check the auto-responder — malefactors could turn it on.
Report the issue to the platform
Tell the support team that you were hacked. If it’s an attack aimed at the platform, you might help technicians to stop attackers.
What if you can’t access your account
If hackers changed your password, contact the support team and tell them what happened. They will help you regain access and fix the consequences of the attack.
How to avoid future hacks?
To avoid becoming a victim again, follow simple rules of cyber hygiene:
- Look out for phishing — check the email and name of a sender, don’t click suspicious links, don’t accept files from unknown users.
- Update your system and apps — outdated software is full of vulnerabilities hackers use to achieve their goals
- Avoid suspicious websites — they might be infected
- Hover over an ad before clicking — then in the left bottom corner of your browser you’ll see the real link
- Use an antivirus — it will protect you from malware
By following these rules, you will minimize the risk of becoming a victim. Then you’ll avoid all that hassle and negative consequences caused by a hack.