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Chances are, you know someone who has been scammed or whose social media account has been hacked or spoofed. A recent survey shows 81% of Americans are more concerned about their social privacy now than they were just one year ago — and those fears are not unfounded. It’s important to protect social media accounts by being proactive.

Data breaches, phishing, fake profiles, stolen passwords, malware, and imposter accounts are just some of the threats users face on social media. While there are many tools to prevent or fix these issues, problems still exist. 

Take phishing, for example. In April 2022, Forbes reported that on top of a record-breaking year of multichannel phishing attacks in 2020. Last year was even worse — with a 51% year-over-year increase in attacks in 2021. 

Attacks on social media channels overall saw a 103% increase from January 2021 to December 2021, according to a February 2022 Quarterly Threat Trends & Intelligence Report.

Here are some tips to keep your brand or influencer social media accounts protected from hackers, scammers and imposters.

How to protect social media accounts

Start by making a list of all your social media accounts, including usernames, passwords and people with access to the ownership or administrative functions of these accounts. 

Change your security and privacy settings

  1. Consider using just your first name or a nickname as your social handle. 
  2. Turn off features that show your location through “check-ins,” which can alert potential criminals not only to your location, but the fact that you’re away from home.
  3. Set up two-factor authentication for all devices and accounts.
  4. Set up alerts about unrecognized logins.
  5. On accounts where the option is available, opt out of data tracking and sharing.
  6. Choose security questions that go beyond the typical “In what city were you born?”

Secure your passwords

  1. Don’t duplicate passwords across accounts. It simplifies a hacker’s job if they get their hands on your cross-platform password. Consider using a password manager to safely create and store them all.
  2. Change your passwords frequently —  data breaches are incredibly common.
  3. Use a strong password with multiple types of characters (i.e., letters, numbers and symbols) to decrease the chances of anyone guessing it.
  4. Avoid sharing your password with anyone — including trusted friends and family members who may unknowingly put your account at risk.
  5. Set up trusted account recovery contacts in case you get locked out of your account.

Update apps, browsers and computer software

  1. Third-party apps — including those that are expired — can use your social information to log you into their website or app. To prevent issues caused by potential security breaches, update or delete outdated apps.
  2. Keep all browsers and computer software up-to-date.
  3. Install security software, such as virtual private networks and antivirus software, on all relevant devices.

Limit at-risk behavior and follow best practices

  1. Avoid oversharing about anything that could broadcast information to people who want to do harm. 
  2. Be cautious of using public computers and public wireless connections, both of which are notorious for their security risks. Instead, use your smartphone as a hotspot or use a VPN.
  3. Don’t click on links if you’re unfamiliar with the sender or are unsure it was truly sent by someone you trust.
  4. Log off your accounts when you’re done using them.
  5. Secure all your mobile devices with password protection in case they’re stolen. 
  6. Use a unique email for your social media accounts. If hackers do access your social media account, they won’t have access to your email, which may store valuable information and private conversations.
  7. Close inactive social media accounts. 
  8. Log out of your account and then use a search engine to view your profile as strangers see it. This will not only allow you to ensure that your account isn’t sharing any valuable information with the public, but also let you know if there are any false accounts set up with your name or profile picture. 

Protecting your accounts from hackers, scammers and imposters takes some effort, but even small changes can help. 

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