Data Protection Day: Tips for Keeping Your Social Media Accounts Safe

In January 2021, a major data leak at SocialArks exposed 318 million records across 214 million social media accounts. For a social media influencer who relies on their social media accounts to keep followers invested and share branded content and collaborations, having profiles hacked could threaten a situation that jeopardises income and financial security.

In light of Data Protection Day, Sam O’Brien, Chief Marketing Officer at performance marketing platform affise, shares his expert tips on how users can keep their data as safe as possible while using social media.

‘With over 200,000 social media influencers with their personal information (including passwords) exposed for the world to see, it is more crucial than ever to ensure your details are protected. If social media is your livelihood, someone gaining access to your accounts could mean a huge drop of income and possibly even a loss of future brand collaborations and advertisement deals.’

‘There are many things that can be done to ensure your privacy remains secure, and there is much more to it than simply ensuring you have a secure and unique password that’s changed regularly. All these small measures add up regarding online security, which is why we felt the need to devise a fool-proof list of dos and don’ts.’

Pick a super-strong password

One of the most common mistakes people make every day is their poor choice of passwords. By using the name of a pet, loved one, or even your street name, you are making it extremely easy for a hacker to compromise your accounts. With just a few key pieces of information on you, an expert will have no problem mapping out the required words and phrases related to your life.

Use a complicated combination of upper and lower case letters, random numbers, and special characters/symbols to stay as safe as possible. To avoid forgetting any of your passwords, create a secure or locked list on sites such as LastPass, NordPass or Dashlane for extra security.

Remember, storing passwords on the notes page in your smartphone and tablet or an email on your computer without using encryption is very risky. If your device encounters a virus, hackers can easily get hold of them this way with almost no effort.

Avoid posting photos that show where you live

We understand that the outside of your home, especially in the autumn and winter months, can look extremely ‘Instagrammable’, but by posting an image of your property or building, you are potentially giving hundreds or thousands of random strangers the chance to discover exactly where you live. Even if you post a photo of somewhere near your home, people intent on stealing your personal information or tracking you down could be able to work out your address with some clever sleuthing.

This could lead to somebody accessing your rubbish or recycling bins, which could provide them with valuable information about your personal or even financial details – both online and off. Keep photos like this on your ‘close friends’ list.

Always activate two-factor authentication

Having an extra security step can not only offer you peace of mind that your social media accounts are secure but can also stop hackers in their tracks. A two-factor authentication system means that you have to prove your identity if you sign in to your account from an unrecognised browser, meaning that your permission is required before the login goes any further. 

Always set this up when you get a new phone or computer. Different kinds of two-step authentication can include fingerprints, texting your mobile number or calling you, all of which help keep you protected. 

Use device management on TikTok

Device management offers the user the option to view the different devices that are logged into their TikTok account, along with the ability to remove any that appear suspicious or unrecognisable. If unusual activity appears, Device management lets you log out of the device that has acquired your details before any damage is done. This would offer peace of mind to influencers that use TikTok as a primary, or even suppletory, source of income. 

Log out of your socials when you’re done

Keeping your accounts logged in at all times will increase your chances of being hacked, so it is always safer to log out once your session is over. This is easier said than done when it comes to apps on your phone, but it is undoubtedly better to be safe than sorry when so much is at risk from your privacy being compromised. 

TikTok automatically saves your login details, meaning that if you lost your phone, anybody would be able to access your account. To avoid this and keep your account as secure as possible, you can remove the ‘save login details’ feature by going into your settings. 

Be wary of public WiFi

Using public wi-fi networks means you don’t have to burn through your data allowance when out and about (once a day at the moment), but you still need to take care when using these free networks, as an attack can happen you’re using unsecured Wi-Fi

This is known as a ‘man-in-the-middle’ attack and involves a hacker intercepting your logins, passwords or financial information as you use Wi-Fi. Logging in to your bank or entering any credit card or personal details while using free networks is a no-go.

Sam O’Brien says: ‘If you do need to check your bank account or make a payment, use your 3G or 4G connection instead as it is much more secure. Also, make sure your phone doesn’t automatically try to connect to Wi-Fi; you can turn it off using the steps below.’

  • Android: Swipe down from the top of the screen and tap the Wi-Fi symbol. It will show green when activated and grey when it’s off. 
  • Apple: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap the Wi-Fi symbol. A message will appear to tell you that you’ve turned off the wi-fi. 

By following these five pieces of advice explained above, your data and devices will be far less likely to be targeted by threats, but remaining vigilant and on the lookout for unusual behaviour is always important to ensure you and your data stay safe.