Hackers can get past government security systems, gain access to corporations’ internal programs, and leak tightly held corporate financial information. It makes attacks on phones and social media accounts seem like a hobby.
In recent years, celebrities’ social media accounts and personal photos have also been a regular target of hackers. You would think that with all of their security personnel, celebrities would be better protected.
But when it comes to creating unhackable passwords, especially for their social media accounts, they are just like us-bad at it!
Here are a few times celebrities were hacked and what you can do to stop the same from happening to you.
Britney is a hacker favorite. She was the object of many hackers’ work several times over the last decade. One of the most memorable attacks was when Spears claimed to worship the devil.
The hacker tweeted, “I hope that the new world order will arrive as soon as possible! I give myself to Lucifer every day for it to arrive as quickly as possible. Glory to Satan!”
Britney usually tweets about music and her performance schedule. So the Lucifer messages were very off-brand for the pop star, making it obvious that she was hacked.
Sometimes, hackers are trying to influence people’s decisions. In the case of the band Sonic Youth, the hackers may have just been trying to get the band back together
Sonic Youth hadn’t played a live show in five years when they told their followers via Twitter about an upcoming concert in Central Park. Fans were disappointed to find out that their Twitter account had been hacked and that there was no show.
A hacker gained access to previously unreleased music from Radiohead. In this instance, the hacker was after personal gain. He threatened to release all of the songs unless the band paid him $150,000.
Instead of paying the ransom, Radiohead countered by releasing the music themselves. It was allowed to be streamed online for free for 18 days. Fans could also purchase the music on Bandcamp with all of the proceeds going to a climate protest organization.
Defend Against Hackers
Everyone (not just celebrities) who uses a smartphone, social media, the cloud, or the internet should have security measures in place to protect their data. Here are a few simple ways you can stay safe.
Strengthen Your Passwords
It’s a basic tip, but important nonetheless. Make your passwords difficult, if not impossible for someone to guess by making them longer and more complicated. Passwords that are related to your name, birthdate, your kids’ names and birthdates, or your pets’ names are obvious easy targets for hackers.
Try using phrases, numbers, and different characters such as exclamation points and question marks in passwords to make it hard for hackers to figure out. Strengthening your passwords will increase your digital safety.
Create Unique Passwords for Each Account
Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams, used the same or similar passwords for his Foursquare and Twitter accounts. Hackers were able to guess his Foursquare password and then tried the same password on his Twitter account. They were successful – both times.
Create new, unique passwords for each of your email, social media, and bank accounts and any other accounts you may have. Do this sooner rather than later. If you use the same password for every account you risk being hacked several times over.
Otherwise, you can join the “we used the same password for everything club” along with Evan Williams, Drake, and Mark Zuckerberg. The celebrities each had several accounts hacked into because the hacker figured out one of their passwords.
If you feel there is no way to come up with unique passwords for all of your accounts, then you can try a password manager. Password managers such as LastPass or Dashlane, typically come with a password generator that will generate and safely store all of your passwords.
Safely storing your password list is key. If you have a list of passwords that you carry around with you, your chances of getting hacked increases if the list is lost or stolen.
Change Your Default Password
Your phone probably came with a default password – something like 0000. If that’s still your passcode, or it’s something like 1234, change that right away. You probably wouldn’t keep a padlock’s code as 0000.
It’s the first combination that a thief would try. The same applies to anything with a preset code or password. Change it.
Use Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus protection is a necessity. Whether you use free software or a paid service like Norton or McAfee, you should have some kind of anti-virus system.
These types of software give you a layer of protection that can prevent hackers from finding private pictures, videos, financial information, and more.
Check Your Cloud Settings
Some smartphones can upload your pictures, videos, and documents onto the cloud. This is a handy feature for when you want to store pictures without having to upload them individually or make documents easy to access from anywhere.
Keeping private pictures and videos on your phone is risky. If your phone is stolen or cloned, so are your pictures. But the cloud may not be the safest place to store information that you’d like to keep private.
Several celebrities have had their personal (nude) photos stolen from either their phone or cloud-based storage systems. Selena Gomez deleted her Instagram account after pictures of Justin Bieber were stolen and shared online by a hacker. Vanessa Hudgens, Kylie Jenner, and Jennifer Lawrence (to name a few) all had similar experiences.
If you’re worried about hackers gaining access to sensitive materials, check your cloud settings to see whether your phone is automatically linked to the cloud. If so, you can easily change this on your phone or computer’s settings to disconnect the two.
If you like the idea of storing information seamlessly in multiple locations, you can remove specific items from the cloud and strengthen your passwords.
Update Your Software
Yes, those little reminders to update your software can be annoying, but they’re important. When you see a pop up on your phone or laptop to update to the latest version of your device’s software, do not ignore it. These updates and patches are put in place for a reason.
Software developers may have detected weaknesses in their system and have made updates to keep you safe from hackers. If a company has detected software vulnerabilities, you can bet that hackers have as well. Update your software to stay current and safe from hackers.
Test the System
If you’d like to take things a step further, test your own security system. You can learn ethical hacking skills to view your data from a hacker’s perspective so you can spot the weaknesses and vulnerabilities leaving you susceptible to hacking.
The More You Know
Now that you know what you can do to protect yourself from hackers, you’ll be able to apply these tips to your own devices or even take these tips to the next level and protect others’ data, too. You can utilize ethical hacking and cybersecurity knowledge to help protect friends and family from hackers or work with nonprofits, major companies, and governments to protect them from hackers.
We can’t all be celebrities, but we can avoid being hacked like one.