Help, I’ve been Hacked!
It can be scary to discover your accounts have been hacked and you may feel like there is no one to turn to for help. We’ve compiled our top tips on what to do if you or a friend has had your social media account hacked.
If you get hacked:
- Try not to panic. It can be really unsettling and upsetting when your account is hacked; try your best to not panic and to calmly think through next steps.
- Change your passwords: If you are able to, reset your password as soon as possible. Choose something that only you will remember, that is memorable and hard to guess. Don’t use passwords like ‘123456’ or ‘password’, as these are easy for hackers to guess. A combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and punctuation marks makes a strong password and make sure not to share your password with anyone.
- Check the messages sent from your account: The hacker may have sent messages or spam to your friends so try to check this if you can; let your friends know it wasn’t you.
- Clean your device: Find a piece of antivirus software to clean up your device and to get rid of any pesky bugs.
- Tell a trusted adult: They will be able to listen, support you and help keep you safe.
- Contact authorities: Call the police if you are ever in immediate danger or have received threatening messages.
For more support on what to do, view the National Cyber Security Centre’s helpful article here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/recovering-a-hacked-account
To report a hacked Facebook account, click here.
To report a hacked Snapchat account, click here.
To report a hacked Instagram account, click here.
To report a hacked TikTok account, click here.
Once you’ve resolved the immediate situation, it can help to step back and think about how you can protect your accounts in the future – here are some of our top tips to keep your accounts and data secure:
- Check your privacy settings: Go to the ‘Settings and Privacy’ section on your social media profile and check that your privacy settings are set to either ‘only me’ or ‘Friends’. When gaming, double check no one can access your personal information and, if you’re feeling upset, uncomfortable or unsafe, turn off your chat settings so others can’t contact you.
- Keep your data safe: Don’t use a real photo of yourself as an avatar when gaming online and never share personal information like your name, age, email, phone number and school with anyone you don’t know.
- Only have people you know in person on your social media accounts: If you don’t know them in person, they could be pretending to be someone they're not - this is called catfishing.
- Make sure your location services are turned off: Some social media apps give the option to use your location data for some of their services. For example, Snapchat has a feature called SnapMaps where you can see where your friends are at that point in time but it's important to remember that you shouldn't keep this feature on all the time. Turn on 'Ghost Mode' or turn off location in other apps/services.
- The Granny Rule: once you post something online, it can be found online forever, even if you delete it! This is also known as your ‘digital footprint’. Therefore, it's important to be kind online and follow the Granny Rule - only post things online that you would be okay with your Granny seeing. You never know… she might!
- Screenshot, Block and Report: Screenshotting is a useful way to collect evidence of something that could be bullying behaviour. If something doesn’t look or feel right, screenshot it and tell a trusted adult as soon as possible so they can help. Using the block and report buttons is another great way to get a post taken down or reviewed by the right people. Use the three dots icon and click report; no one will know it was you and the post will be looked at by that platform’s HQ.
- Mute, Restrict, Block: Firstly, if something is upsetting you online, you can mute the person or people displaying that behaviour. They won't be notified of this, so it can give you some time away from that person/group to focus on your mental health and wellbeing without seeing their messages. Secondly, restricting certain words on TikTok comments or your Twitter feed can also help with avoiding anything that may be triggering. Lastly, if someone makes you feel upset, uncomfortable, or unsafe online you can block them, this means that they can’t contact you, and you can’t contact them.
- Raise Awareness in School: If your school has Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, you can ask them for their help and advice about staying safe online too. If you are an Anti-Bullying Ambassador yourself, consider raising awareness about online safety and sharing these top tips for your peers - any campaign/activity you run can go towards earning your Online Safety badge!
Check out lots of other handy resources on staying safe online on our Resource Centre. Remember to have fun, be kind and stay safe online!
If you are a young person in the UK, you can text DA to 85258 for free, 24/7 support on topics such as bullying behaviour (including online bullying behaviour), relationships, stress/anxiety and more.
You can also contact the Samaritans by calling for free on 116 123 and calling Childline for free on 0800 1111