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Someone Hacked Your Social Media Profile? Here’s What To Do.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 15 years, you’ll know that social media nowadays is huge. To exemplify this, just take a quick scan of the infographic from Hootsuite’s Digital in 2019 report below.

So, of everyone on the total population of the world (some 7.593 billion people) around 42% are active social media users! Nearly half. When you remember many parts of the world are still yet to get the internet, this is truly a staggering statistic.

With this explosion in social media, cyber criminals have also refocused their attention there. Not least because it is popular, but because if someone was to build a tool to help cyber criminals profile and select their targets…it is would be something like Facebook or Instagram. They literally use social media like you and I go to the supermarket. They can select their targets depending on age range (vulnerability), technological literacy (grandparents), emotional state (posts/comments), geographic location and much much more.

According to a study by Criminologist Dr. M McGuire at the University of Surrey, social media-enabled cybercrime is generating $3.25B in global revenue each year. That’s not cyber crime overall – just the social media part of it! “OK, Jonny we get it. Social media is a haven for cyber criminals. We get it. What can we do about it?” I hear you say!

Why cyber criminals hijack our accounts...

1. Saves Them Time – you already have already built an authentic social circle on social media (represented by your connections or ‘friends’). To build up a fake profile with the same number of connections would take them a long time.

2. Instant Access to Targets – when they take over control of your account they will have immediate access to probably hundreds of your friends and family (who soon will be their targets). So rather than targeting individuals to scam sniper-style, they can target your entire social group shotgun-style! This makes for a much more scalable business model for them.

3. Immediate Authenticity – when they message your social circle, as long as they do it convincingly, they have instant authenticity because they are masquerading as you, a stand up member of society!

How do they do it?

1. Fake Emails – the most common one is where they send us fake emails to collect our passwords directly from us! You’ll get an email that looks like it’s from Facebook asking you to do something like confirm your security settings or validate your account. It’ll open your web browser and seemingly open Facebook but it’ll be a fake site made to look identical to Facebook. You’ll then think you’re logging in but actually you’re simply sending your username and password straight to the cyber criminals!

2. Malware – they’ll use malware to steal your password. Many people think they need to install something or click a link to get infected with malware. That’s no longer the case. You can infected with malware by just being on a specific page (e.g. drive by downloads).

3. Social Engineering – someone will get in contact with you offering some kind of business opportunity, prize, free holiday, etc. This is exactly what happened to Kevin Kreider, an Instagram fitness influencer. Posing as a press relations staffer from fashion company French Connection, someone called Lana offered a sponsorship deal and sent over a link to the company’s own Instagram account. After being clicked by Kreider, the link redirected him to a fake login page designed to steal his Instagram credentials. The hackers got access into his account and then demanded a ransom to get his account back.

Those are the three main ways hackers hijack our social media accounts. What are the main signs to look out for when our social media account has been hijacked?

• Thee obvious one…you’re locked out and cannot log back in. Your password no longer works.
• You receive an email notifying that your account password has changed when you haven’t actually changed it. You have numerous new likes, follows or friend requests or a sudden increase in friends that you haven’t instigated.
• You notice changes to your status updates and profile photos.
• Your friends contact you about weird messages you’ve been sending from your account.
• You notice under your profile settings that there are other devices logged in to your account.

Your Social Media is Hijacked! What Can You Do?

1. Reset Your Passwords (if you can)

Providing the intruder hasn’t changed your password, then you can change your password and lock down your account. If they have changed your password, click on the “Forgot Your Password” link and go through your security questions to reset it.

2. Contact The Social Media Company

If you can’t reset your password, you’ll need to contact the social media company and explain what has happened. They’ll ask you some questions to validate your identity and hopefully reinstate your access. Click here for specific guidance on your social media account in question (article covers Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google).

3. Log-out of All Device

This will cut access from anyone else who has temporarily or remotely gained access.

4. Notify Your Friend

In case they have been sent malware, phishing emails or messages with malware in them, let them know you have been hacked and you are in the process of recovering your account.

5. Report It

If resetting your password doesn’t work, report it to the site. You may want to do this anyway as they may well add additional security measures to help protect you in the future.

6. Enable Two Factor Authentication

You may now be on someone’s hit-list and need to step up your security game! Enable two factor authentication on all social media accounts to make it very difficult for an intruder to hijack again.

7. Run Anti-Virus Scans

Just in case you have been infected as part of the original attack, this will help prevent any follow-on attacks.

And that’s it! That’s everything you need to do to recover your social media account should it get hijacked and also some steps thrown in there to prevent it happening again (steps 6 and 7)!

 

Jonny

Founder of www.SimpleCyberLife.com. Cyber security expert, public speaker and entrepreneur.

www.jonnypelter.com

jonny@simplecyberlife.com

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