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Social Media Hacking: The posts putting you at risk and how to protect yourself

Strong passwords are a good place to start

Sharing important life updates online can put you at risk of getting hacked.

ROANOKE, Va. – Jordan Nallen is just like any other mom. She has a 2-year-old daughter and posts photos on social media to share with friends and family.

That is, until one February morning when the 28-year-old woke up to find someone hacked her Facebook account.

“I had multiple texts and emails from Facebook just letting me know that there was a login from an unknown device. And then multiple other texts and emails that my password and email had been changed,” said Nallen.

She tried to take back her account, but kept getting kicked out

“Violating. it was just violating,” she said.

Nallen immediately called her bank and unlinked accounts she’d connected using Facebook.

“Doordash, Grubhub, anything like that where my credit card would have been on there, I quickly went and canceled those accounts or changed the password, took my credit card off there,” said Nallen.

She even sent the company messages on Instagram to try to get some help.

“Facebook really offers no support in that way. Nobody that you can call, no email that you can send,” said Nallen.

What to know about online money transfers. (WSLS 10)

Dr. Aaron Brantly, the director of the Tech4Humanity Lab at Virginia Tech said it happens more often than you think.

“Numbers are very hard to come by on almost all social media platforms, because they keep those numbers very close to their chest,” said Brantly.

The motivation is usually either financial or malicious.

“You have somebody who just has a grudge against you or somebody who doesn’t like you. So they will literally try and defame you or try to go into your account to try and undermine your reputation,” said Brantly.

Brantly said that once your account is hacked, there’s not much you can do.

“It’s almost impossible to get local police to do anything about it because they simply don’t have the technical capacity or skills to do this,” he said.

Brantly said your best defense is prevention:

  1. Set up two-factor authentication
  2. Use a strong password
  3. Change your passwords frequently
  4. Don’t share or click on links from unknown sources - it could be a virus
  5. Don’t link your accounts to your social media
  6. And be careful of what you share online because everything from your check-ins to your likes to your photos can put you at risk
Tips for how to create a strong password. (WSLS 10)

“If somebody is going to try and get into your bank account or credit cards or other types of things, well then they’re going to start by trying to understand your Facebook or your social media profiles,” said Branlty, “Because those give them the insights into your life, that allow them to hack into those other accounts.”

While putting these preventative measures in place can protect your accounts, they’re not foolproof.

“You make it more difficult, not impossible, but more difficult to hack these types of accounts,” said Brantly.

Nine months later and Nallen still doesn’t have access to her Facebook.

“I can’t get on to it. I can just see it from the outside if I look at my account,” said Nallen.

She takes responsibility for sharing her personal information online and says she’s probably better off without the account.

Her advice is to be careful.

“Really knowing what you’re signing up for,” said Nallen.

Want to see what your own best steps may be to secure your online presence? Check out the Consumer Reports Security Planner.


About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!