You’ve probably already heard that Facebook accounts are hacked to gain personal information, but you might not be aware of how easy that just might be for hackers. With hackers increasingly targeting Facebook as a primary source of collecting user information, and corporations using your information to make decisions about your rates (see this article about insurance companies raising premiums of social media users), you really should have a plan for protecting yourself.
Here are some tips to prevent getting hacked:
- Use strong passwords. The names of yourself, your spouse, parents, siblings or dog, or your birthday, do not qualify. Use a mix of letters, digits and punctuation (but not blank spaces). Use both capital and lowercase letters. The longer your password, the better. The shorter your password, the easier it is to hack, especially if it’s a common word or name. A good starting point is six characters, though 8, 10 or 12 are even better. If you have trouble remembering, do something about that, else consider using an unusual phrase or combo of words that only you or a few people might know, then substitute some of the letters with digits and/or punctuation. Humorous combinations might make it easier to remember, but otherwise write your password down in a SAFE place. Or just keep using the “Forgot password?” option to reset your password.
- Change your password regularly. By regularly I mean monthly or even weekly, not yearly. Facebook’s “Forgot password?” option is one way, or you can go to your account’s settings.
- Don’t friend everyone. That “hot chick” whom you don’t know and looks like some Hollywood starlet might be a guy. Avoid the person who doesn’t even have a profile pic, let alone any friends in common with you. If you haven’t met them, be cautious. Also, don’t friend friends whom you know to use weak passwords. If their account is compromised, hackers can still learn certain things about you from your profile, or could send you a message via the friend’s account to lure you to a malware site.
- Don’t click on links willy-nilly. If you click on a status update that a “friend” posted on your wall and it looks fishy, don’t assume they actually did it. Their account could be compromised. If your clicking takes you to a Facebook application that you’re unsure of, there’s no obligation to click through. For example, AllFacebook Editor Nick O’Neill recently posted about a fake ‘Like photo’ application.
- Don’t believe all emails. Don’t forget that honest web services will never ask you to do certain things in an email. For example, Facebook will NEVER send you an email asking you to change your password or enter personal details. If they need you to do that, they will tell you where in your account settings you can go to do that. On a similar note, protect your email account that you registered for Facebook with, else someone can succeed in resetting your Facebook password.