A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Instagram, telling me that my account password had been changed. In a momentary panic, I clicked on that link…
Fortunately, a crisis was averted, and while said email and activity was strange – it wasn’t a hacker. It did, however, open my eyes to my own naivety when it comes to the security of my online accounts and believe me, changes have been made.
I’ve done some research since then and looked at the best ways to secure my accounts – be those email, social media, insurance platforms, even booking appointments for various medical practitioners. The key learning: NEVER let your guard down.
Here are a few tips and tools to implement to ensure the safety of your personal or business information:
Starting with the obvious – never click on a link unless you are 100% certain of where it comes from. Hover over links in emails to see what the full link is – hackers can embed code into a link which takes you to a false page. Be wary of links via text message or on social media too – the general rule: if you don’t know where it comes from, don’t click on it.
It can be overwhelming to think of and remember passwords that contain, letters, numbers and characters, and change these passwords on a regular basis. Changing a password may be a hack, but the real hack would be to lose all your data, lose money or be held ransom to pay a fee for recovery of your personal information.
A must! You can do this on all accounts from Google through to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In a nutshell, two-factor authentication forces the user to enter a password as well as a code that is sent to your cell phone. This means that even if your password has been compromised, the hacker cannot access your account.
One step further than two-factor authentication, is to enlist an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator. When you are asked for the code, if you have an authenticator, the code is retrieved from the app. This way, even if your phone has been compromised, you can still gain access to your account.
First step here is – be careful who you give permissions to on your account. Every time you sign in using your Facebook log-in you are giving that app or site access to your account. Revoke permissions on Facebook and Instagram by going to the security section under settings. Facebook now also allows you to generate a special password for apps rather than using your Facebook login.
Once you’ve implemented what you can from the above, there are a few other ways you can give yourself peace of mind.
Saving Recovery Codes
Recovery codes can be downloaded from Instagram. This means if you can’t access your phone to retrieve the text message code sent to you or you can’t access your authenticator app, you can use one of these recovery codes to access your account.
Check Who is Logged-In on Your Account
At any time, you can log onto Facebook and see who is currently logged into your account. If you don’t recognise a device, you can log out of that device immediately. It’s always a good idea to check on this from time to time in case your account security has been breached.
A great option if you’re worried about losing your Instagram data, is to download this data from your account and store it in a safe place. To do this go to security under settings and click on ‘download data’. Your data will be sent to you via email.
That sums up a brief security check for your online platforms. If you have any useful hints or tips, please share! Securing your accounts and being diligent about maintaining account safety is paramount in this digital world.