I am guessing you have gotten quite a few notifications from Facebook friends that they’re Facebook accounts have been hacked. Maybe it’s happened to you? Either way, I am sure there was lot of well-meaning messaging back and forth, encouraging reporting to Facebook and more.
Here is what you need to do to get control of your account back:
- Reset your password to something you have never used before.
- Verify that your email address for your account is still your address and no other email addresses have been added. If any unfamiliar email addresses have been added, delete them. If your email address has been replaced with another one, make it yours again.
- Verify your phone number on the account in the same way as above.
- Verify all other account and profile information is still correct. If not, make the appropriate corrections.
- If you have reused any of the passwords on other accounts, go change those.
Change other passwords, why, you ask? Well, here’s what’s important to know, so this does not happen to you again and again: It’s not Facebook, it’s you!
The reality is that if someone was able to hack into your Facebook or email accounts, it’s because:
- you were the victim of some previous hacking breach, where at the very least, your name and password for that account was stolen; and
- you re-use passwords.
Internet criminals are a lot of things, but dumb isn’t one of them. It’s not a secret that the majority of us re-use passwords and the criminals, well, they count on this digitally untidy behavior, using their own technologies to match up names and passwords across Facebook and many other personal accounts.
So, don’t complain to Facebook, instead let’s revisit your password habits.
- Start by checking to see if you have ever been part of a hacking breach. Go to: https://haveibeenpwned.com/, enter your email address and the site will tell you if have an account that has been compromised in a data breach. In all likelihood, you have been. This means that the affected email address and password is not a secret to hackers and that if you re-use that password, you are asking hackers to devote special attention to you!
FUN FACT: According to the Urban Dictionary, pwnd is a corruption of the word “Owned.” It basically means “to own” or to be dominated by an opponent or situation. The term ‘pwnd’ originated in the videogame Warcraft, where a map designer misspelled “owned.” When the computer beat a player, it was supposed to say, X “has been owned.” Instead, it said, so-and-so “has been pwned.”
- Play it safe by using two-factor authorization wherever possible, changing your password frequently, and creating unique passwords across different sites and accounts. Think you can’t remember all those passwords, then use a Password Manager!
Managing you own cyber security hygiene will continue to be an ongoing activity. There is no golden key to keeping your accounts private. But you can make it harder for the criminals to access your data—don’t re-use passwords!
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