If you’re developing your personal brand, you probably have spent some time making sure your Instagram looks good. In fact, you can spend years building your message and audience, and maybe you already had. Maybe you are out there killing it on Instagram (maybe you even got verified).
Now I’m going to tell you something terrifying: within an instant your account can be lost, and believe me, there are people trying to steal accounts left and right.
I got stressed just writing that line, and if you have a developed Instagram with brand deals, an audience, and a great list of contacts, you probably got the chills. However, I’m glad you ran into this article because it’s better to secure your account now than frantically googling how to recover your hacked account.
At the end, it just comes down that it’s much easier to take precautions to secure your account. Would you rather purchase an alarm system for your home after it’s been robbed, or the other way around?
Here are my recommendations to make your Instagram account the social media equivalent of Fort Knox.
1. Enable Two-Step Verification
Are you familiar with Missy Elliot’s song “1, 2 Step”? That song has nothing to do with this, but is a great segue to Two-Step verification. If you ever have the ability to enable this security feature, always do it. It is a helpful tool that serves as a gatekeeper when logging into your accounts.
It works by incorporating two authentication methods whenever you log in to an unrecognizable device, to ensure the user is who they claim to be. Instagram’s two-step verification services will require your initial account password, and then also incorporate a randomized code that is sent to the user’s device. This can be done via text message (SMS) or through a third part app, such as Google Authenticator or Duo Mobile.
This step only takes a few extra seconds, and is worthwhile and easy to implement.
2. Get a Secret Pre-Paid Phone
Now that you know about the Two-Step Verification, here are the bad news: Contract phone lines are very susceptible to being hacked. With a post-paid plan device, it is alarmingly easy for anyone to contact your provider claiming to be you and obtain a clone SIM from your account.
If you have millions of followers, a verified account, and other more-than-average details, you can spend $20-$40 on a pre-paid SIM card that you would have associated with your social media accounts.
This phone will be unreachable to those looking to steal your information. Two of the most popular pre-paid phone services include Cricket Wireless Basic and MetroPCS, which offer a monthly fee of $40 for 5GB of data per line. That’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Yes, you will feel a little bit like a weed dealer at the beginning, but at the end you’re going to feel like a top secret agent protecting the hell out of your account.
3. Start Using a Password Manager
You already know that you should have a unique complicated password for each of your accounts. But of course, you don’t want to do it because it’s long, and it will probably take an hour or so to set them up, and how are you going to remember all that?
Fortunately, password generators and managers are there to do all of that work for you. These services will auto-generate and then securely store all of your passwords for you, and are generally free to use.
By using a master password (don’t lose that one), you will be able to access your all of your password information within an encrypted and centralized location.
These managers also offer the ability to run audits on your passwords to make sure they’re strong, audit your passwords to make sure you don’t use the same ones across multiple accounts, and can sync new passwords on multiple devices.
Some reputable password managers are: 1Password, Dashlane, and LastPass.
4. Be Secure About Your Passwords
This portion of advice might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to be careful about your passwords and devices.
Use a password manager and do not write down where others can find them, especially not on sticky notes by your computer or devices. If you do want to store your passwords on your computer in a document, at least name the file something random so that it’s not identifiable anyone looking for them.
Do not give out your passwords to others. Be careful to never type out your password in front of other people, as you never know who might be watching. And lastly, guard your phone like it’s your newborn child- don’t leave it behind, and don’t leave it with strangers. That would just be bad parenting.
5. Beware of Phishing Emails
Hackers will often utilize a phishing technique called URL padding. The word “padding” sounds comfortable, but unfortunately this maneuver is as comfortable as getting a deep tissue Thai massage from a blind rhinoceros high on bath salts.
With this tactic, you will receive something that looks like an official email from your social media platform, bank, and others, and it will look very authentic. It will drive you to a website that looks pretty much like “Instagram” and it will ask you for your password.
One way to test the link to see if it’s legitimate, is to copy and paste it somewhere else (e-mail, note, text message) to see the entire link. If the link contains words or letters that look suspicious, do not click on it or insert it into your url bar.
Also, it’s important to remember that Facebook will never send you login links through text messages or e-mails. Also, do not click any links sent to you by unknown contacts.
Taking preventative measures against account hacking is a worthy investment and requires minimal, but mindful effort. Upping your security game will give you the peace of mind to continue expanding your brand and crushing your industry with full confidence & peace of mind.
I bet you’ve worked hard to grow your accounts – it’s crucial to protect them.