It’s becoming all too familiar: That frantic post from a Facebook friend that reads something along the lines:
If you received a friend request from me, do not accept! My account has been hijacked. Someone is impersonating me.
And that’s the least sinister of what can happen when social media accounts are compromised. Many online users routinely use their social media account to log into e-commerce sites, which often store their credit card and other very personal information.
As part of the #BE30DayChallange to Secure Your Digital Life, use Week 1 to be proactive in making small, yet significant changes to protect your social media accounts:
During this week:
- Assume control over any applications that have access to your social media accounts.
Whenever you take a fun, silly quiz on Facebook, or use a tool to count how many followers you gained on Twitter last week, you are giving an application access to your account.
To really secure your social media accounts, revoke any applications you may have unwittingly given permissions to access your social media account.
While the specific steps to do so vary depending on the social media platform, the overall instructions are generally the same.
For example, on Facebook, go to “Apps” > “Settings” and either click “X” to remove the app, or “Edit Settings” to control which permission the app has to your account.
- Use a unique login for e-commerce and other sites rather than your social media account.
Many sites make it easy to log in using your Facebook or Twitter account. However, you can also choose to create a username and password instead with most of these sites. For extra security, instead of using your social media account to log in the sites you visit most take the time to create a unique, separate username and password.
- Enable two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication is available for just about all social media logins, but too few of us are using it. This is extra security that will ask you to use a second means of logging into your social media account besides a password.
For instance, on Twitter, if you go to your account setting page, you can opt to “require a verification code” when you sign in.
This will send a texted code to your phone that you must enter in addition to your password when logging on to Twitter.
- Use unique passwords across different social media accounts.
If you tend to use the same password on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat…don’t. Take time this week to create a unique password for each. Also…
- Create strong passwords.
Many websites now require password complexity. If you have been lax on creating strong passwords, do so during the first week of this challenge. Some hints for creating strong passwords:
Use a password generator to create a super-secure password.
Use mnemonics with random words, for example, changing “light gate” to “l!G3tg8Te.”
Use biometric password technology that’s increasingly available on smartphones, tablets, laptops and other computers such as the iPhone’s Apple Touch ID.