Social media has become an integral part of university life, allowing students to connect, share, and engage with peers. However, the rise of social media has also brought about the risk of account compromise. From personal data exposure to reputational damage, the dangers of social media compromise are real and can have serious consequences. This article is dedicated to helping university students understand the risks, recognise signs of compromise, and take proactive steps to protect their social media accounts.
The Dangers of Social Media Compromise
Identity Theft: Compromised social media accounts can expose personal information, allowing cybercriminals to steal your identity and use it for malicious activities.
Malicious Posts and Content: Hackers can post harmful or offensive content on your profile, damaging your reputation and relationships with peers.
Privacy Invasion: Private messages, photos, and personal information stored on your account could be accessed by unauthorised individuals.
Phishing Attacks: Once hackers access your account, they might use it to send phishing messages to your friends, further spreading the compromise.
Recognising Signs of Compromise
Unauthorised Activity: If you notice posts, messages, or friend requests that you didn't initiate, your account might be compromised.
Changed Password or Recovery Information: If your password is changed without your knowledge, or if you receive notifications about changes you didn't make, act immediately.
Unfamiliar Devices and Locations: Most social media platforms offer features to show you recent logins and devices used. If you spot unfamiliar activity, it's a red flag.
Friends Reporting Suspicious Content: If friends reach out to you about unusual posts or messages from your account, it's time to investigate.
Protecting Your Social Media Accounts
Use Strong and Unique Passwords: Create complex passwords that include a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols. Use different passwords for different accounts to minimise damage if one gets compromised.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Utilise 2FA wherever possible. This adds an extra layer of security, requiring a second form of verification along with your password.
Beware of Third-Party Apps: Be cautious when granting access to third-party apps that request access to your social media accounts. Only trust well-known and reputable apps.
Regularly Review Privacy Settings: Keep a close eye on your privacy settings and limit the visibility of your posts to only those you trust.
Stay Updated: Keep your social media apps and operating system updated to benefit from the latest security enhancements.
Beware of Phishing Attempts: Be sceptical of messages or emails asking you to provide your login credentials. Always verify the authenticity of requests before sharing sensitive information.
Log Out from Shared Devices: If you use a shared computer or device, remember to log out of your social media accounts after use.
Responding to Compromise
Change Passwords Immediately: If you suspect your account has been compromised, change your password, and log out of all active sessions.
Revoke Access to Third-Party Apps: Check which apps have access to your social media accounts and revoke access for any suspicious or unnecessary ones.
Alert Your Friends: If you suspect your account has been hacked, let your friends know not to click on any suspicious links or messages.
Report the Compromise: Most social media platforms provide options to report compromised accounts. Take advantage of these features to recover your account.
While social media provides a platform for connecting with friends and sharing experiences, it's crucial for university students to remain vigilant about the risks of account compromise. By understanding the potential dangers, recognising signs of compromise, and implementing robust security measures, students can enjoy the benefits of social media while safeguarding their personal information and online presence. Remember, prevention is the key to maintaining a safe and enjoyable online experience.
You can report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online.
Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726.