Social Media Hijacking: Don’t Be a Victim!

By on April 6, 2011

Every now and then you hear a horror story about someone’s social media account that was hijacked and ruined, or deleted – by an evil hacker. Imagine finally sorting out your strategy, you have thousands of likes, you’re selling well direct from your Facebook page – and all of a sudden your page isn’t yours anymore, or its vanished off the face of cyberspace.

It’s called account hijacking and it’s a painful and nasty reality that every business should be concerned about. You need to learn how to protect your business against unscrupulous hackers. First – knowing how they do it.

1. The Very Easy Way

The easiest way for a hacker to gain access to your account, is to type in your email address, click “I forgot my password” and then hack into that email address to find your password. To prevent this from happening, be sure to check that your email is secure, and that your contacts aren’t receiving any strange marketing emails from you in their inbox. A red flag is to find a password in your inbox that you didn’t request.

2. Social Probing

If your accounts aren’t secure, your hacker will be able to guess your password by doing some ‘social probing’ of your life or industry. Whatever you do, don’t use personal passwords – like the names of your cats, your wife or your favorite sport. These hackers love it when your password is easy to guess from basic profiling. Don’t make it easy for them, or you could end up without a Facebook business page.

3. The Computer Spy

A hacker gets you to download something that secretly opens a keylogger on your computer. Everything you type is then recorded and sent to them. They discover your passwords. They go SPAM crazy on your accounts. Whatever you do, do not open strange files in your inbox or that you come across online. Check them with a spyware program to make sure they’re clean!

4. Gone Phishing

This is the nastiest trick in their box of tricks. A hacker creates a fake page and domain name that looks almost exactly like your account login page. They then email you some warning or update caution, with a link that takes you there. You type in your username and password. They hack your account. Never, ever, ever click on foreign email links – even if they look legitimate. Instead use Google or type in the domain name directly.

Facebook Security

  • Use an intricate, difficult password
  • Change your security settings to https, instead of http
  • Do not click on links sent to you by friends for no reason
  • Be suspicious of personal contact on your page

Twitter Security

  • Don’t access your account on unfamiliar computers
  • Don’t ask Google to save your passwords because its easy
  • Come up with a super complex answer to their security question

Stay vigilant. Hacking happens, especially to busy accounts. Why would an evil marketer want to use your account in the first place if it’s dead? Make sure that you change your passwords every month. And as always, be careful what you say online – you never know who could be listening!

Have your social media accounts ever been hacked? Tell us the story!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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