Just recently we published a series of posts that focused on social engineering scams you might encounter if you hang out on social media. We covered how spot scams on all the major social media platforms and some platforms that you might not associate with social media but that nonetheless have tons of users and tons of tricks running rampant on them.
This got us thinking here at RCS, “Well, let’s say you were already hacked on social media – how would you be able to tell? Is it glaringly obvious like your BFF’s new (and horrible) haircut or is it more subtle? Will you know that you have been had or not? And once you have been had, is there any way to resolve it other than to delete your accounts?”
Some of the signs of a hacked account are indeed more obvious – like when you see that you are now following lots of new accounts you know you never would have chosen to follow. Some are less than obvious and could be attributed to many causes other than hacked accounts but sadly, not this time. Here are the main signs, obvious and no-so obvious, to watch out for.
The obvious signs of a hacked account
Change of access locations
You get an email from Facebook or Pinterest that says that someone just logged into your account from say, Russia, or anywhere that’s not where you are. This is a pretty telltale sign of a hack. Thankfully, when Facebook and other social media platforms see a login from an odd location, it sends you that check up email which includes a link to change your password if you didn’t, say, fly to Russia, simply to change your Facebook status from there.
You are following lots of new (and very peculiar) accounts
You log into Twitter and notice that you are following 500 more accounts than you were last time you tweeted. And your feed is jam-packed with stuff you couldn’t care less about (although, that might not be too out of place, at least on Twitter, but we digress.) That should set of bells. Sometimes hackers are paid by other companies to hack accounts to gain followers and likes. If you notice a jump in accounts liked by your account or that you just can’t figure out why or when you would have followed all these new accounts, you can bet there is something fishy going on.
Changes to your profile
Can’t remember when you posted that weird picture of a sunset instead of your dog to your profile? Well that’s because you didn’t do it. Again, a pretty clear sign that you should check out what’s happening.
The less-than-obvious, but “Oh, it all makes sense now” signs of a hacked account
Posts/tweets that you didn’t post
You hear from friends that you are are posting things that are just so not “you”. You might be a bit defensive at first but don’t take it personally, it’s not that your friends don’t appreciate your new found love of hamburger haikus, it’s more likely that you have been hacked and are now posting very out of character material. This might be in the form of ads that have been spread all over your wall or odd looking shortened links in normal-seeming tweets.
Apps you didn’t install
Can’t remember when you installed that new game or camera app on Facebook? Well chances are, that’s because you weren’t the one who installed it. Discovering that you are the proud installer of new, unwanted apps is a good clue that you have been hacked.
You can’t get into your account
At first you’ll probably assume that you have finally lost your mind ” Okay, now I’ve really lost it- I can’t remember my password at all.” Before you run off to a memory specialist, consider the possibility that your social media account has been hacked and you are now locked out. Unfortunately, often times when this happens, clever criminals take the extra step of replacing your email address with their own so that you can’t simply recover your password by having the network send you a reset email.
What can you do if, indeed, you have been hacked:
Change all passwords ASAP, making sure you use unique and random passwords for each account. As we have said over and over, using only unique, random passwords is one of the most important elements when it comes to keeping your digital identity secure. This holds true even on social media where things might seem a bit more laissez faire.
For the future safety of your accounts, enable multi-factor authentication. This will make it more challenging for hackers to breach your accounts.
Run a reputable antimalware program like RCS that will catch anything that the hackers might be trying to plant on your computer.
Contact support on the network that seems hacked and let them know that you were breached.
Delete all the posts/tweets/updates that shouldn’t be there.
Let your contacts/followers/friends know that you were hacked and to not open any suspicious links that were sent form your account while it was hacked.
Social media is all fun and games until it’s no longer fun and games. Keep your eyes open for these tell-tale signs so you can intercept a hack before it ruins you and your reputation.