The internet has become a part-time job in itself, and the number one online task that people do on it today is to spend time on social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter. The digital world has evolved into an interconnected network where you can connect with your friends from different corners of the earth at any time.
However, this convenience comes with its share of drawbacks, including privacy breaches. There have been several instances of data leaks or hacks over the years, which have resulted in sensitive information like names, addresses, and credit card details getting leaked onto public forums.
With every passing day, social networking sites try to combat such problems by implementing new security measures and policies. But they often fail because no matter how much you tighten up your accounts, hackers still manage to get past them.
But how exactly does someone hack into your info? Is it some magic trick? Or maybe you’ve accidentally given away access to your Snapchat account. All of these things could happen if you don’t follow certain precautions while using social platforms. Here’s what you need to know about hacking into your social profiles.
What are social networks?
Before understanding how someone might hack into your profile, let us first understand what social networks are. A social networking site (or SNS) is usually a website designed to facilitate communication between users across various geographical locations. Through messages, it allows individuals to share thoughts, ideas, opinions, photos, videos, and other content. There are plenty of examples of popular social networking sites out there already.
Some of the most notable ones include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Snapchat and TikTok. These social networks allow you to instantly communicate with family members and friends who reside thousands of miles away. They also help you stay connected with people you may not meet otherwise.
Best social networks of 2022
With so many options available, choosing the right platform isn’t easy. This year, we will look into the best social networks you should consider subscribing to before next year rolls around. So here they are!
- Facebook is undoubtedly the largest social network out there. Over 1 billion active monthly users mean that almost everyone knows about it. However, Facebook has faced criticism for mishandling user data despite its popularity. Even though the company claims to be transparent about user privacy issues, it still doesn’t seem very trustworthy when protecting your private information.
- Snapchat is a top-rated social media app. It lets users communicate with others via text messaging. The app offers chat functionality with instant message features, including group chats, voice and video calling, and file sharing, among many others.
- YouTube became a household name back in 2005 when it was launched. Since then, millions of people have watched billions of hours of video footage on the app. While YouTube has had its fair share of controversies, it remains one of the most trusted sources for viewing educational content among students globally. Also, since YouTube caters to both audio and visual content, it offers something for everyone. The only downside is that it is owned by Google, which means that your data may fall into the wrong hands if you aren’t careful enough.
- WhatsApp is another hugely popular messaging application used worldwide. It is essentially a messenger app that enables instant text conversations. Roughly 2 billion people use WhatsApp regularly since it only requires phone numbers instead of email IDs.
- TikTok is gaining momentum and becoming increasingly popular amongst teenagers across the globe. According to a recent report released by Statista, it is estimated that approximately 500 million people use TikTok daily. The app primarily focuses on short-form video creation and consumption.
This list of top social networks is far from comprehensive. But hopefully, you got an idea about which social networks are worth considering.
What is Snapchat?
You must have heard of Snapchat before reading this post. It is a photo-sharing service developed in 2013 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, Reggie Brown, Kevin Systrom, and Daniel Ek. The app lets you create “Snaps” consisting of pictures and videos lasting anywhere from 15 seconds to 10 minutes long.
Once uploaded, snaps disappear automatically unless viewed within 24 hours. You can send Snaps via SMS, MMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, and even Bluetooth. Your recipient gets notified whenever he views a snap sent to him. Snaps received are displayed chronologically according to when they were sent.
While Snapchat allows users to send self-destructing images and videos to others, it also includes features like Bitmojis (personalized cartoon characters), filters, lenses, stories, geofilters, emojis, chat bubbles, stickers, and live videos.
In addition to sending Snaps, you can add effects to them, making it easier for recipients to view them without opening the Messages tab. For example, you can apply filters to make your image look like oil painting, watercolor, poster art, retro, anime, comic book, portrait, selfie, and vintage.
How Snapchat works
When posting anything on social networks, whether a meme, link, picture, video, or gif, it typically passes through a screening process first. To prevent spamming, social networks employ tools called CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart).
When people encounter CAPTCHAs, they choose Option A or B to submit a question to the system. Option A asks questions like “What color is this letter?” or “Which animal is behind door #123?”.
In contrast, option B asks you to check boxes based on colors or animals. Based on their responses, the CAPTCHA checks if the person submitting the message is human or not. If it detects that the sender is automated, it won’t pass through and return an error message. Otherwise, it sends the message to the server and forwards it to the intended target.
Scams on Snapchat
Cybercriminals nowadays tend to exploit loopholes in existing services rather than creating entirely novel schemes. This makes it difficult to identify potential threats.
One loophole exploited extensively by cybercriminals involves Snap scores. A Snap score refers to a unique numerical identifier assigned to each user. You receive a random Snap score whenever you sign up for a new app. Most apps give higher Snap scores to premium subscribers.
For instance, Snapchat assigns 12 digit alphanumeric identifiers to registered users. Any attempt to change the username results in changing the associated Snap score. On the contrary, unregistered users receive lower Snap scores. Users with low Snap scores are generally less likely to attract attention from scammers. Hence, cybercriminals lure targets by offering to increase their Snap scores.
Since many companies covet high Snap scores, giant corporations and cybercriminals sometimes pose as representatives of these firms to convince victims to hand over important documents. The next step would be transferring control of funds to unknown parties.
Another type of scam revolves around impersonation fraud, wherein scammers pretend to be celebrities and ask for donations.
Privacy Tips to protect your Snapchat Account
You must keep in mind specific essential tips while signing up for any social platform. Following a few simple steps can help you to safeguard your privacy:
- Create strong passwords – make sure that your password is complex and hard to guess. You can use password generator tools to create complex passwords that consist of uppercase letters, special characters, and symbols. Never disclose your password to anyone.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) – 2FA helps companies maintain more robust security measures. At the same time, consumers and users gain more protection against fraudulent access. With 2FA, hackers must utilize more resources to steal the Snapchat account. 2FA makes your account more secure. However, if a consumer or user does get hacked, they can regain control of their account through multifactor authentication.
- Virtual numbers – they will help you to prevent your real numbers from being leaked on the network, and to Snapchat hack no verification, which will allow you to create a new account without using your real number.
As you may have noticed above, Snapchat has many advantages. It allows you to share with your friends and colleagues without complicating your life too much. However, it also carries risks, and you can suffer hacks that can jeopardize your privacy. That is why you must be careful when browsing this social network.