When we hear the word ‘hacker’ these days, we tend to think of a 20-something-year-old, in their bedroom, tapping away at their computer trying to break into our accounts. The truth is a little more scary when you consider that there are many things that most of us do without thinking, that opens the door wide open, making it easier for people to tap into our most private information.

Social media is like the gateway these days to a lot of your personal information and you cannot afford to let it get into the hands of anyone else. Protecting it is a must.

The consequences of your social media accounts being hacked range from insignificant to dire. You need to make sure that you are doing all that you can to minimise the chances of the latter.

Change your passwords regularly

It may seem like an obvious suggestion when many sites prompt you to change your passwords every 60-90 days, yet, have you noticed that your social media accounts don’t prompt this? They don’t, so you need to be proactive. It may be inconvenient but it’s a step that is worthwhile when it comes to protecting yourself.

Step away from the quizzes in your feeds

What celebrity do I look most like” and “What will I look like in 30 years from now” quizzes are designed to gather your data. Things that may seem unassuming and innocent are often not. When you use these quizzes, you’re often sharing information with them directly or you’re giving them permission to access your profile and everything in it. From there, hackers have systems to collate the data, enabling them to build a profile on you that they can then use to hack your accounts. Don’t do any more quizzes!

Be aware of who your friends are

There is a misguided idea that the more friends you have on social media, the more popular you are. Don’t accept all friend requests unless you know who they are. When you get a friend request from someone, be sure to examine their profile and take a look at what they’re posting and sharing. Trust your instincts and don’t let just anyone in! Many people will go through your friends’ list and add everyone in there. If it feels untoward and suspicious, ignore the request.

Don’t use the same password for all your accounts

Be discerning about your passwords and consider that if someone were to hack one account, the chances of them trying all of them are pretty high. It can be frustrating trying to remember them all, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t use the ‘sign in with Facebook’ when signing into new services.

When you do this, you’re telling Facebook what platforms you use (so they can target their advertising to you!!). It can make it a bit harder to regain access if something goes awry.

If someone happens to get your Facebook password, they can then access any site that you have utilised the “Use Facebook to sign in” feature
Keep everything separate and the passwords different to ensure maximum security.

Delete old accounts, format old phones and format computers

Be aware of how much data there is of yours sitting around. Just like you wouldn’t throw your paper-based credit card bills and or statements into the general waste, don’t just toss your old hardware in the bin.

If you decide that you’re going to no longer use an account, consider deleting it. Often these days we receive bills to our email accounts and other personal communication through our social media accounts. Make sure you before you delete them that you provide a current email address that you have access to. This way, if you someone tries to reactivate or login to a closed or old account, you’ll receive an email notifying you.

Use a secure single sign-on

If all this seems a bit much, you can download software that stores your passwords securely and use only one password to login to that.

There are various software programs out there that do this, which means that all you need to do is remember one password and the software will store the passwords for all your profiles within it. Make sure you do the research to find one that works for you.

Nicola Moras is an online visibility expert, author of VISIBLE a guide for business owners on how to generate financial results from social media and digital marketing. Nicola helps clients around the world achieve visibility, impact and profits. Find out more at www.nicolamoras.com.au