October 31, 2018Published by: Leah Domenet

How to stop your social media accounts being hacked

As October – and Cyber Security Awareness Month – draws to a close, it’s important to reflect on what businesses and individuals can do to protect themselves online. It was somewhat unfortunate, then, that even the world’s biggest tech companies couldn’t set a good example...

At the end of September Facebook declared its largest ever data breach, in which roughly 50 million accounts were accessed and up to 90 million in total were compromised. Instagram, too, suffered a large-scale hack at the same time, which affected thousands of users. Unfortunately, I was among the unlucky ones and had the misfortune of experiencing first-hand the difficult process of recovering an account.

While it was personally upsetting and frustrating, it did set me thinking about what would have happened if I was a big brand or influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers, relying on the platform for an unprecedented organic or paid-for reach, or even an income.

A social media presence can take years for a brand or influencer to build. Successful metrics, fantastic engagement rates, and now the ability to add a Shoppable link to a post, don’t just happen overnight. When an influencer becomes a victim of a hack that could potentially shut down their account, the job of rebuilding a following is an incredibly challenging task, if not impossible.

That’s why it’s crucial to have the right security measures in place to ensure all your hard work won’t be lost in an instant. With that in mind, we’ve outlined four top tips for staying secure on social media:


  • Two-factor authentication with a mobile number

The most widely available security measure for social media accounts is using two-factor authentication and linking it to a mobile number and an email address. Having this enabled means every time you or someone else tries to access your account from a new device, you will receive a text message with a security code. Hackers typically won’t have access to this so won’t be able to log in to your account successfully. To enable two-factor authentication, check your account’s privacy settings.


  • Two-factor authentication with third-party apps

Two-factor authentication security measures are not exclusively found within an app’s internal security settings. In August, we wrote about Instagram’s introduction of two-factor authentication via third-party apps, adding an extra layer of protection for your accounts. Apps we would recommend using for this service are Duo Mobile or Google Authenticator.


  • Regularly change passwords

It’s the oldest security trick in the book and you’ve probably heard it a million times, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less effective or important. Changing passwords is something we encourage our clients to do once a month. It also goes without saying that you should always choose a difficult password to guess or by using a randomiser (1Password). If you want to have complete peace of mind, we recommend having different passwords for all your social media accounts.


  • Authorise devices and apps

All social media platforms collect a list of devices and apps that you have granted permission to allow access to your account. Even if you stop using them, these devices will remain stored on the social channel. In this situation, data can become vulnerable if the apps or devices with authorised access aren’t secure. This is particularly true on Facebook and Twitter, where long-forgotten, inactive apps such as ‘Who Unfollowed Me’ or ‘FarmVille’ may still be linked to your account, leaving you at risk of being hacked.


To address this threat, we recommend regularly checking the number of apps and devices that are connected to your accounts and revoking access to the ones you no longer use. You can find this information by looking in your account settings.

While those tips aren’t exhaustive, they should provide enough security and peace of mind for brands and influencers not to panic when the next security breach happens. If you’ve taken the right precautions and addressed all the potential security flaws, your hard-earned following won’t be lost forever.


About Battenhall

We look after brand profiles on social media, and we're proudly the world's #1 at what we do. Named The Drum's social media agency of the year for the last three years running. Get in touch! hello@battenhall.com

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