On the weekend, in the early hours of Saturday morning, the Sydney based sisters behind Base Body Babes discovered their Instagram account (with more than 560,000 followers) had been hacked. The account formed the basis of their online health and fitness business and was a vital part of the marketing strategy for their bricks and mortar gym/cafe. They were locked out of the account, its name was changed and their 760+ posts were deleted.
Fortunately their account was recovered by Instagram and they regained control 2 days later, but not before they had lost several followers as people were confused by the hijacked account. The Base Body Babes are the lucky ones.
Last month American fitness blogger Chalene Johnson also had her social media accounts hacked and lost 50,000 followers on Instagram. She also regained control, but has had to invest significant time and resources into rebuilding her profile (all of her posts and the people she were following were deleted). She has documented her experience and key tips in her podcast here. (Friendly Warning: There is lots of dramatic music and narration, but there are great tips as well).
While these examples are high profile, large accounts, don’t be fooled into thinking it can’t happen to you. It’s not only larger accounts that are being hijacked. It can happen to every single one of us.
WHY ARE ACCOUNTS BEING HACKED?
For the larger, high-profile, high-follower accounts, the reason are obvious. Hackers can rename the accounts, take the large following and onsell or use them for their own business. But for smaller profiles, it can also be to mine information about you which can be used to access more valuable accounts, such as bank accounts. In her podcast, Chalene Johnson talks through a lot of the reasons these so-called “social engineers” are preying on social media accounts.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ACCOUNT.
Make Sure Your Have A Secure Password
Most people aren’t diligent about passwords for their social media accounts, creating something easy and memorable rather than something safe and secure. This is especially true for those people managing more than one Instagram account, who are often opting for short and simple passwords to make the process of logging in and out quick and painless. Your password should be as secure as possible, incorporating a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters that cannot be easily guessed.
Secure Your Email Account
Oftentimes, the hackers access your social media accounts via your email address, so it’s important to make sure your email password is also very secure. If they can access your email, they can easily set new passwords for all of your social media accounts and lock you out.
Change Your Passwords Regularly
Passwords are not a “set and forget” proposition. The longer they are left unchanged the greater the risk.
Be Careful With Your Security Questions
Often when we’re setting up social media profiles (and other online accounts) we’re asked to provide answers to security questions that we can answer in the case of a forgotten password or username. Make sure that the answers to these questions are not easy to find. With the amount of information we’re sharing online these days, it’s easy for hackers to amass a lot of information that makes the answers to these questions easy to find or even guess. Make sure you choose questions and answers that are not easily discovered.
BACK UP YOUR CONTENT
The loss of your followers and community would be devastating if your account was hacked, but equally distressing would be the loss of all the content you’ve crafted.
One way to protect your content is to create the images or take the photos outside of Instagram e.g. using your phone’s camera rather than the camera option within Instagram. That way they will be saved to your phone’s camera roll.
Also, when you create quote images or other designed images (in apps such as Wordswag, Canva or Over), save a copy to your phone or computer as well as posting to Instagram.
Within your Instagram settings you can also turn on the setting for Save Original Photos. This means that every time you post a photo to Instagram (taken from within the Instagram app, or edited using Instagram), it will be saved to a photo album on your phone.
Another automated way to backup your Instagram content (in the order that it’s posted to Instagram) is via the software program If This Then That (IFTTT). IFTTT has a number of “recipes” which automates actions from within a number of apps and websites.
There is a recipe that automatically saves all Instagram posts to Dropbox. So you can create a special Instagram Post folder in Dropbox, and each time you post to Instagram IFTTT automatically saves a copy of that post to the specified Dropbox folder (in the order that they’re posted). This is not only a protective measure, helping you to avoid losing your Instagram content, but it also makes it easier to repost images and reuse content at a later date. (To find this recipe, once you have signed in to IFTTT, search Save Your Instagram Photos to Dropbox).
IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANY OF US
Whether you have 40, 400 or 400,000 followers on Instagram (or even if you’re just starting out), your account could be targeted by hackers. No one is immune. Taking steps to implement the most secure account settings could save you a lot of time and heartache.
ACTION: Change your password to something secure today.
BONUS ACTION: Set up IFTTT to save your Instagram posts to Dropbox so your content is backed up.