Nearly every day, you may see a friend post on social media that he or she was recently hacked. In fact, nearly two-thirds of people who have social media accounts say they’ve experienced an account breach.

But if you’re like most people, you do little if anything to prevent it. Like millions of other Americans, you assume the security systems set up by the social network will be enough to protect your information.

Spam, hacking incidents, and the spread of malware on social media are growing more common. Social sites are like gold mines for malicious operators who seek access to massive amounts of personal data.

It’s also a huge gateway for attacking commercial social media networks, which puts their followers at risk. Hackers can gain access to this information in many ways, but the most common include:

• Celebrity Posts: Hackers often use the comments section of a celebrity’s post to spread malware. When a famous person, such as Taylor Swift or Kim Kardashian, posts to social media, that receives thousands of comments. Hackers can sneak suspicious malware code into a hashtag without anyone being the wiser. These can get past all the security put up by social media networks and leave the commentators vulnerable.

• Big-Name Events: Malicious code can also be woven into posts about big-name events, especially on Twitter. URLs are always shortened on Twitter, so it’s hard to tell that clicking on a link attached to a big-name event could be harmful. People naturally assume that if something’s posted under a well-known event, it must be safe. But they get attacked by malware.

• Crackable Passwords: Most people use the same password for everything, and they often choose something easy for hackers to crack. Using simple hacking techniques, experienced hackers can get into your account, send malicious code, post spammy links, obtain personal information, and wreak havoc on your account.

These are just a few of the many ways that hackers can gain access to your account and spread malicious code through social networks. If you want to keep your account and privacy safe, here are some safety tips.

1. Set Up Suspicious Activity Alerts

You can keep tabs on all your social accounts by setting up alerts on your browser or mobile app. The tool you use will monitor your online accounts and watch for unauthorized access. If it picks up suspicious activity, it will alert you so you can respond immediately.

2. Create Complex Passwords

Research shows that a little over half of people will use fewer than six passwords for years, perhaps even as long as they live. Worse, the most common passwords include:

• password
• qwerty
• 12345678
• 12345
• 123456

Such obvious passwords make it easy for hackers to gain access to an account. If you make your password unique and complicated (such as by using at least one number, one capital letter, and one symbol), crack it becomes considerably more difficult.

Both consumer and commercial account holders might also consider using a password manager like LastPass. It will remember all your complex passwords so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them or sharing them with others.

This service is virtually uncrackable, so it’s an excellent solution for people who worry about forgetting their passwords.

3. Don’t Click on Everything

Hackers often get in because people click on a shortened URL in Twitter, a strange hashtag, or an otherwise unidentifiable URL. Be wary about what you click. If the URL looks fishy, it’s best to leave it alone and Google the content you wanted to view instead.

4. Turn On Two-Factor Authentication

It might seem like a pain to have to take two steps to get into your account, but it’s smart if you’re trying to keep it secure. Every social network offers two-factor authentication options, but they usually have to be activated manually. You might want to do that for greater personal account security.

5. Manage Your Account Privacy Settings

Make it harder for people to steal your identity and acquire information by managing your privacy and account settings. Limit what the public can see about you by editing the permissions section of your social networks. This takes time, but you’ll save yourself the pain of having to deal with hackers later on.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Jessica and I am an independent journalist, freelance blogger, and technology junkie with a passion for music, arts, and the outdoors. One of my greatest passions and joy is assisting communities and business owners. My utmost desire is to help people and business owners to succeed and prosper in their personal and business affairs. I share, comment, write and edit popular news stories.