What’s up with these hackers??

Many of the people I follow on Twitter have been sending errant tweets obviously not created by them, and the Facebook messages I’m getting from my friends definitely aren’t coming from my friends. Recently a friend of mine lost her entire profile because someone hacked in, changed the security questions, and then shut the profile down, making it irrecoverable. What the heck is going on? Do people have nothing better to do with their time than cause problems and frustrations for others by hacking systems?! Rather than focusing on the problem, I’d like to suggest a couple of simple, and yes – obvious solutions that we all tend to forget about which can keep us from being at risk:

 

    1. Change your passwords every 3 months. I know this can be tedious, however, it really does make a difference. I recommend that you change them quarterly and keep them consistent throughout all of your social networks, email, websites, bank logins, etc. Or if you are required to have some passwords which are more lengthy, alternate between two. If you are a person who likes to use a variety of passwords, try using an online password storage system such as Last Pass.
    2. Help others. If you notice crazy messages coming from your online connections, let them know right away so that they can put a stop to the problem. If it doesn’t seem like their messages or posts, it’s probably not them.
    3. Download your Facebook profile every 3 months. Facebook gives you the ability to back up your profile and archive your data: timeline info like posts you’ve shared, messages, photos and more. Just in case you ever lose your profile somehow, at least you’ll have photos and other important data saved. Here’s how you can do this:

From Facebook: You can download your information from the Account Settings page.

  1. Click the account menu  at the top right of any Facebook page
  2. Choose Account Settings
  3. Click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data”
  4. Click Start My Archive

Because this download contains your timeline information, you should keep it secure and be careful when storing, sending or uploading it to any other services.

 

To further assist you in keeping your account safe, and your identity safe, I recommend two additional things:

  1. Don’t show your year of birth. When it comes to your social networks, opt to not show your birth year on your profiles. This information is required to set up your profile (and you should use your real date of birth), but a full date of birth is information you do not want people to have access to easily. Simply select the option not to show your birth year on your profile.This is important on Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  2. Don’t install apps you don’t trust.  Using certain Facebook apps could allow your data to be transferred to a third party without your knowledge. Make sure before clicking “allow” for an app on Facebook, that you research whether or not it’s a trusted app.

Because this download contains your timeline information, you should keep it secure and be careful when storing, sending or uploading it to any other services.

 

These are just a few simple suggestions to help keep your content and your information safe. Do you have other suggestions? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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