Have you ever received an email saying one of your accounts has been compromised and you need to update your security information?
You’re not alone.
“With hacking becoming increasingly sophisticated, regular users are bearing the brunt of it. Certain social media accounts are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks,” Deyan Georgiev of VPN Central told KDVR.
What accounts are being targeted most by hackers?
VPN Central analyzed 10 platforms and their average monthly searches in relation to cybercrime, using terms like account hacked, hacking and hack.
The research showed the following came out on top for hacking-related searches:
- Facebook: 67,940 searches
- Instagram: 36,220 searches
- Spotify: 25,920 searches
- Twitch: 10,800 searches
- Amazon: 6,170 searches
VPN Central also took a look at Snapchat, Twitter, Gmail and Microsoft, though those platforms ranked much lower in hacking-related searches.
If you have accounts on any of the top five platforms, make sure you are changing your password on a regular basis and adding in multi-factor authentication. Continue reading for ideas on how to make your passwords harder to crack.
How to protect your online passwords
The Federal Trade Commission has a few pointers to keep your online passwords secure.
- Passwords should be long and strong. Use at least 12 characters and avoid common words or phrases
- Don’t reuse passwords. Use different passwords for different accounts, that way if one of your accounts gets hacked, the hacker can’t use the same information to hack other accounts
- Use multi-factor authentication when it’s an option. Some accounts offer extra security by requiring something in addition to a password to log in, known as multi-factor authentication. The “something extra” you need to log in to your account falls into two categories:
- Something you have — like a passcode you get via an authentication app or a security key
- Something unique to you — like a scan of your fingerprint or your face
- Consider a password manager. The longer and more complicated a password is, the stronger it is. But longer passwords can also be more difficult to remember. Consider storing your passwords and security questions in a reputable password manager. Search independent review sites and ask around to people you know to find out what programs work best for them. Make sure your password manager has a strong password, too
- Pick security questions only you know the answer to. Avoid giving answers that are available in public records or easily found online (like your zip code, birthplace, or your mother’s maiden name.) Additionally, don’t use questions with a limited number of responses that attackers can easily guess — like the color of your first car. Another sneaky option: Who says you have to tell the truth or make sense? Use nonsense answers to make guessing more difficult. Be sure you can remember what you write, however.
- Change passwords quickly if there’s a breach. If a company tells you there was a data breach and your password may have been compromised, change that password immediately — and on any other accounts that use a similar password.
VPN Central noted that even though some platforms are more likely to be targeted by hackers, “there are no ‘unimportant’ accounts that no one will target.”
Visit IdentityTheft.gov if your identity or information is being used for fraud.