Social media hacking: how to protect your account against intruders

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No matter if you have been cautious when browsing the web and even downloaded a security software like a VPN to secure your connection, you are still at risk to be targeted from hackers' attacks. 

Social media hacking, for example, is on the rise.  And, this is not just because these platforms count billions of users daily. Research conducted by one of the best VPN services around, NordVPN, shows that Meta platforms - Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp - are the number one target among wannabe hackers.

From stalking and online harassment to identity theft and money scams, these platforms seem then to be an easy way into cybercrime. However, the good news is that there are some actions you can take to minimize these risks and protect your account against intruders. 

How hackers attack your social media account:

These are the most popular tactics that bad actors employ to hack your social media account: 

  • Phishing: This tactic involves sending to targets malicious links and/or dangerous attachments via DMs and emails. Suspicious links can also be shared across the social media service with posts and comments. Once the victim clicks on it, their account and/or device gets infected with malware to steal your data.
  • Infiltrating public Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Every time you connect to a public Wi-Fi, your personal data can be exposed. That's why we recommend that you use a secure VPN service when connecting to open wireless. Similarly, hackers can break through Bluetooth connections.
  • Data breach abuse: Hackers can also access the leaked sensitive data available online, such as usernames and passwords, to easily get access to people's social accounts. Think of the recent TikTok hack or the many cyberattacks that targeted Facebook in the past, for example.   
  • Brute-force attacks: This can occur when the intruder knows your email account linked to your account, but not your password. By using an automated tool, attackers can try out millions of passwords in a really short time. The risks are even higher if the hackers personally knows you, as it can create a more customized list.  

A group of cubes all displaying social media logos

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Tips to secure your social media account from hackers

1. Pick a strong password

Choosing your passwords carefully is the first step to minimize the risks of an intruder getting into your account. As a rule of thumb, use a different one for every account and change it after some time. Use a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special symbols: the longer, the better.   

We know, it can be difficult to keep up with your password hygiene. This is why you might want to consider using one of the best password manager tools, instead. Some VPN services - like NordVPN with its NordPass, or the ExpressVPN Keys - even have their own software as an additional feature. 

2. Make the login process more secure, enabling two-factor authentication 

You can also make things more difficult for hackers by setting up the two-factor authentication (2FA). As it requires you to prove your identity twice, this might discourage bad actors from forcing onto your profile. 

Already a common practice for securing your email account, most social media platforms are now offering this extra layer of security. These include Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

3.  Set up new device login alerts 

This means that you get an alert every time your account is accessed from a new device. Even though it isn't a tactic to prevent your account being hacked, you can quickly realize that and act accordingly. 

In case you think an intruder gains access to your profile, we recommend that you report the incident straightaway to the platform as well as change your login details. 

4.  Think twice before clicking on links 

We already mention phishing links as one of the most common ways to spread malware and viruses to steal users' sensitive information. Such attacks aim to steal your login credentials and, often, approach your contacts to launch scams.  

You should always be mindful of catchy and shorten links, especially when they are sent from suspicious accounts. Whether these are on your DMs or comments, check out the source before clicking on it. 

5. Use a VPN when accessing public Wi-Fi

Hackers can also infiltrate your device via a public Wi-Fi and, from there, grant access to your social media account. This is why we recommend always using a reliable VPN when connecting to open wireless. This tool masks your IP address and location, while securing your data through encrypted VPN tunnels

Among our favorites are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark - all have easy-to-use apps to use across different devices. It is worth noting that Surfshark has no limit of connections you can use at once, while Express allows five and Nord six.

VPN on a phone screen held by a man

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

6. Boost your account privacy 

Another useful action is making your social profile as more private as it can be. For this, be mindful of what you post online and the information you share about you. Head then to the settings of your Facebook, TikTok or Twitter account and opt out the options you are not comfortable with.  

You should also review your account permissions to restrict the access to other apps. This means that in case you get hacked, intruders cannot infiltrate your other accounts. 

7. Consider of using a different email for your social media accounts

Finally, you should create an email address to exclusively use with your social media accounts. This would shield your more important information in case your social accounts get hacked. 

Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to