We’ve all seen the horror stories about hackers taking over bank accounts and power grids. Hackers also steal information such as credit card, social security, and bank account numbers. In recent years the trend toward hacking social media accounts has risen, making two-factor authentication an absolute necessity for business owners.
An article from NordVPN found that 2 in 5 people report they had a social media platform hacked. Nearly 80 percent of people surveyed worry they might become victims. All of us know someone who’s been hacked. My cousin, a country music singer and well-known line-dance instructor in Nashville had her Facebook business account taken over. The hackers began posting graphic porn videos under name and brand.
These incidents happen quite frequently. Researchers at Google and the University of California, Berkeley found that 15% of internet users experienced someone fraudulently accessing their social media or email accounts between March 2016 and March 2017. Sometimes they get personal or business information. Others, like in my cousin’s case, post obscene things or send emails on users’ behalf.
Hacked accounts damage small businesses
A hacked business social media account can be disastrous, and nearly impossible to recover. If someone uses your account, you lose credibility among your customers. Just one fake link that steals your customers’ information, damages credibility and trust. Customers may question how competently your business is run if your accounts get hacked and start posting malicious links.
If hackers post obscene content, like in my cousin’s case, the pranksters might find it humorous. However, it embarrassed her and her company’s reputation. Such cases can even end up on the news. Such an event happened when the Washington, D.C. area’s transit authority Twitter account was hacked by pranksters.
Watch for red flags
There are multiple red flags if you pay attention. For example, beware posts on Facebook that supposedly link to brand’s official account with the wrong URL. It is likely a fake website attempting to steal personal information. While this can be annoying to deal with on a personal level, it has more severe consequences for small business owners.
One indicator that something isn’t quite right is when a post asks you to do something (follow a link, vote on something, submit your name and information). Don’t do it. Random posts asking things like “How special was your dad’s middle name?” are phishing for personal information to use to hack your private accounts. Other possible scams:
- Messages from friends or family members via messenger asking you to click on a link.
- Giveaways that sound too good to be true. Often you are asked to share personal information to enter.
- Random messages from friends that don’t sound like the person you know. Your friend’s account might have been hacked, and the hacker is now trying to get you.
- Requests or offers for bitcoin and other investments.
How to protect your accounts
While these are scary possibilities, especially small business owners with a vast array of other tasks that need to be completed, there are steps to protect yourself.
Passwords are often leaked when an organization’s database gets hacked. More than 500 million Facebook users’ passwords and personal information were stolen. This means it’s important to change your password frequently.
Cybersecurity best practices include changing your password every three months. This can keep hackers guessing when they’re denied access to your account upon attempting to log in. If you get an alert your passwords have been leaked, reset them as soon as you get the chance. This will help ensure they’re not used maliciously.
Why 2FA is so important
On top of changing your password, one of the best ways to ensure the security of your social media accounts is to turn on two-factor authentication. This means that when you log into an account, you’ll need to provide a secondary form of verification. In addition to a password, you might have to tap your phone screen, or enter a one-time code. This extra step makes it much more difficult for hackers to access an account.
There are other methods, too, depending on the platform. Confirmation links may arrive via text or email. Some apps, such as Discord, offer stored codes. Others are built-in, like Apple’s Keychain password protection software.
There is also fingerprint and facial authentication when logging into accounts, or push notifications sent to your phone so you can confirm when logging in on another device. Two-factor authentication ensures a stolen password alone won’t be enough for an identity thief to take your accounts for a joyride.
Take steps now, or ask for help
Online diligence is a necessity as hackers get smarter and figure out more ways to get into your account. If two-factor authentication seems like an annoying extra step, it still beats getting hacked. We know there are times when you just want to log into your accounts quickly. If adding another layer of tasks to your social media to-do list is overwhelming, we can help.
We offer services for social media content creation, posting and management. AZ Media Maven can manage your passwords and your two-factor authentication, taking the stress off your hands. We’ve been working with media of all forms, social and traditional alike, for years.
AZ Media Maven is based in Laveen, AZ, a suburban village in the greater Phoenix area. Owner Rose Tring has more than 30 years of journalism experience as an editor and writer, many of those years in business news. She created AZ Media Maven in 2012 to help other business owners succeed by effectively telling their stories through public relations and social media. Reach AZ Media Maven at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (602) 373-8371.