(NewsNation Now) — It’s estimated that the average person spends more than two hours a day on social media. With all of these accounts, and the passwords and security questions that come with them, it’s easy to become complacent about cybersecurity. But tech experts sternly warn against this.
It is common for scammers and pranksters to target high-profile social media accounts. Ask Ashleigh Banfield of NewsNation. Recently, his Twitter profile was hacked. The stranger changed his profile picture, deleted tweets dating back to 2015 and even started soliciting gifts on his account.
Fortunately, Banfield’s account was locked by Twitter before further damage could be done.
But for some, it’s not that simple.
Banfield’s own editor, Paula Froelich, also experienced this. His ordeal ended up costing him thousands of dollars.
“I remember like it was yesterday,” Froelich said. “I was working from home. And the next thing I know, boom, my phone is not answering me. So I went to my computer and tried to access my Gmail…I’m stuck on my Gmail. Then I tried to go on Twitter. I’m blocked on my Twitter. And five seconds later, my internet goes down.
Froelich said she immediately went to an internet cafe to figure out what was going on. And that’s when it hit her.
“Oh my God. My life was hacked. I don’t have a home phone so there was no way to reach anyone,” she recalled.
Fortunately, Froelich was still able to access her Facebook account, where she sent a plea for help and a cybersecurity expert was able to help her, but at a steep price. He was told to buy a new SIM card for his phone immediately. It was then that she realized the extent of the problem.
“I put [the new SIM card] in my phone. It started working under a different number and it turned out my phone had been hacked,” she said. “My SIM card was hacked. And thanks to this, all my accounts related to this phone were hacked.
It ultimately cost Froelich around $5,000 to fix the problem through various tech and security experts.
Some of these experts say it may not be in the interest of social media companies to provide technical support for incidents like these.
“Unfortunately, these companies aren’t necessarily on a mission to provide the best customer service,” said Alex Hamerstone, director of consulting solutions at TrustedSec. “And being able to keep you happy isn’t always their goal. And it cost them a lot of money to have customer service. So a lot of that was offloaded to algorithms and websites and everything.
When it comes to keeping your accounts secure, Hamerstone said arguably keeping hackers away from your two-factor authentication is most important.
“If you’re concerned about some of the phone and texting issues that are out there, you can use an authenticator app, which you can get on your phone and things like that,” he said.
Hamerstone also said that one of the main reasons for identity theft is something many of us are guilty of, whether we admit it or not: having the same password for multiple accounts.
“One of the most common ways for scammers and hackers to gain access to these accounts is for people who reuse passwords to use the same password across multiple sites.”