The LinkedIn Scandal – How to Protect Against Social Media Hacks

In 2012, LinkedIn was infamously hacked and the password details of users released and shared across the darker reaches of the web. Old news you would think. Unfortunately, four years on in 2016, reports are again surfacing that this may not be the last we hear about this particular breach. Earlier this year, it came to the attention of security researchers that some 117 million examples of passwords and email addresses were being sold together on data sharing websites, leading to the estimation that 167 million LinkedIn users are likely to have suffered in some form. 

The main reason that this latest scandal has come to light is because the hacker in question, the ironically named ‘Peace’, has started to peddle his stolen data through online illegal marketplaces. What is interesting is that at the time, fears were mitigated by LinkedIn, aided by the fact that only 6.5 million encrypted passwords were released, and the company never truly revealing how many were actually stolen. Now we know, and it isn’t good news.

LinkedIn haven’t been the only social media platform to experience the ignominy of being hacked though. In the case of a much more high profile individual, Facebook chief Executive and founder, Mark Zuckerberg found himself the victim of an attack that breached his Twitter and Pinterest accounts. It soon became clear that the hack wasn’t one of malicious intent, but rather a test on the system on Mr Zuckerberg’s behalf, but even so, it doesn’t look good.

What we do know about social media is that millions of people use it worldwide. There are an estimated 300 million on LinkedIn, 271 million on Twitter and 1.2 Billion on Facebook. We gain access through our desktop computers, laptops, tablets and phones, with constant access granted through both the websites and apps available. The sheer volume of people and ease of access makes the hacking of social media accounts highly attractive to cyber criminals. With nothing more than an email and password, a hacker can have access to private information, conversations, images and ultimately the network you are logged in through.

So how do you protect yourself from a potential breach? The easiest way is by protecting your password. At Digital Pathways, we recommend investing in password management software, through a company such as Last Pass. This tool will help to store your password information for you and autofill forms on your behalf. It also helps to generate random, complex password combinations that it can then protect against external sources. This process creates an impenetrable password that even you don’t know, making it highly improbable that you will ever lose the information.

We believe that many of the digital security problems we face in the 21st century are down to a lack of education. We need to be teaching people that their digital security is as important as their physical. You wouldn’t leave your front door wide open, or a key outside that anyone could find to get in. Treat your web presence in the same way and you can stay safe. In this particular example, your social media account is the house, the password the key. Protect both by visiting Lastpass.com.

For more information or help on ‘How to stay safe on line’ please call 0844 586 0040  We’re here to help you

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