It doesn’t happen too often, if you take the necessary precautions, but people do end up with their social media accounts being hacked and exploited for malicious purposes.
Sometimes perpetrators use these stolen profiles to generate fake interest around a particular page or group, which then in turn creates organic interactions with real users. Other uses of a hacked account vary from exploiting personal information or “rebranding” the profile into something else entirely, while still retaining the amount of likes — this actually also happens on a transactional basis, meaning that users offer up their popular pages for sale. Businesses then buy and turn them into ad-infested hellholes, but that’s a whole other story.
Getting hacked does not necessarily have to mean losing control over your account — you might still be able to log in normally, but notice that your profile picture is changed, or that weird messages have been sent out to people on your behalf.
Regardless of the reasoning behind your misfortune, if your Facebook account got hacked, there are some things you can do to get it back, or at least ensure that your data stays safe and sound, as well as preventing any future breaches.
Before diving deep into the details of what you should do after making sure that your account was actually hacked, equip yourself with some basic protection, to prevent hackers from still being able to see your activity online — if your Facebook got hacked then chances are that they’ve done it by breaching your device.
To make it harder for other people to gain access to your online accounts, hide your IP with the help of a VPN service provider, such as Cyberghost. You can check out its review here: https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/cyberghost-vpn-review/. Virtual private networks connect you with a random server located somewhere abroad (you even get to pick the location with some of them), masking your actual whereabouts from potential wrongdoers.
Can you log in?
Not all account breaches are necessarily malicious. If you’re still able to log into your profile, but things have been moved around with posts and messages sent out without your knowledge, then the ‘hack’ was most likely a playful prank or someone getting back at you.
In that case, go to “Settings” > “Security” > “Log In”. This will enable you to see all the devices that were used to log into your account. Check for anything out of the ordinary on the list, such as an unknown device or a sign in at a time you couldn’t have possibly logged in, for example when you were asleep or on a flight.
If you see unusual activity, change your Facebook password immediately, especially if the perpetrator used an unfamiliar device, since that probably means you caught them just in time before they changed your password.
Report to Facebook
If it turns out that you did in fact lose access to your account and are unable to retrieve it by yourself because the hackers changed your password, the first and foremost thing you should do is reach out to Facebook.
The social media company actually has a pretty convenient page you can use in order to troubleshoot the hack and try to regain access to your profile. Thanks to this tool, you’ll be able to let them know your private information has been compromised. After providing your email address or phone number used to register the account, you’ll be able to retrieve it quite easily.
Once you’re back on Facebook, you’re going to be asked about the nature of the hack. This means that you’ll need to let them know what exactly happened with your profile: posts and messages published without your knowledge, changes in profile pictures or names, or even if you had encountered another profile that has used your photos and other personal information.
How to prevent future breaches
First of all, change your passwords! Not only the one you used for Facebook, but all of them. Once hackers somehow gained access to one of your social media accounts, it means that none of the other ones are safe — especially if you’ve been using the same password with all of them.
Secondly, download and install a VPN. It has already been mentioned above — virtual private networks are the best methods of ensuring privacy on the internet. They do not make your devices unhackable, but will definitely add a very helpful layer of security, which will significantly decrease the likelihood of you getting hacked.
You should also revise your privacy settings and permissions on Facebook and other platforms in order to ensure the highest level of privacy possible.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, enable two-factor authentication — this simple tool will add an additional layer of security, on top of the VPN service you’re using. It’s quite easy to set up as it only requires giving a phone number that will receive a login code from Facebook. You will then need to type in this code in your browser after providing the correct password, so unless the hackers also got a hold of your phone, this is one of the best ways to stay safe when using social media.
Written by Freelance Writer Maciej Grzymkowski
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