Avoiding account hacks

Signs that you might have been hacked might include getting lots of “pop ups” from companies offering stuff you haven't even asked for - or your device noticeably starting to slow down.

So, what do you do first if you think you've been hacked? Tell a parent or carer, and then let your friends know so they can stop themselves being hacked too.

While there’s no foolproof way of keeping your online accounts safe, there's plenty you can do to limit the chance of someone breaking in. We’ve listed our top five tips below.

1. Make sure your password isn’t too easy to guess

Lots of people pick a password that’s easy for them to remember, but is also too easy for other people (or computers) to guess. Don’t use your name, your birthday or the word ‘password’ when you create one.  And did you know that any individual word from the dictionary can be easily guessed by a hacker's computer?

So create strong -- really crazy -- passwords.

A strong password is made up of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Keep it quite long, and make it something that’s not too common, or easy to take a guess at!

2. Always create a brand new password

Trying to remember loads of different passwords can get confusing, so just having one that you use for everything might be tempting. But it's risky!

If one of your accounts is hacked, the hacker will often try the same password across other sites. Having different passwords for everything will make sure the problem doesn’t get even worse.

If you do get hacked change your passwords on all sites that require logins. This is sometimes a pain and can seem to take up too much of your time but you never know what the hackers have access to. Use a password manager to store your passwords, or write them down and keep them in a locked drawer.

3. Never share your password, even with your friends

In this case, caring is not sharing. Don’t give your password out to your friends. The fewer people who have access to your accounts, the better.

4. Think about where you log in from and what you share

If you’re logging into a site from a shared or public computer (like the ones at school), just say no if the site offers to save your password.

Skip anything that's not required. Plenty of companies will ask for more information than they really need.  Be especially careful with dates of birth, home addresses, anything that would make you easily identifiable to a hacker.

Make sure you log out of websites and online sessions properly when you’ve finished, to avoid other people gaining access to your stuff.

5. ‘Sniff-test’ sites and apps before signing up

Some apps or websites will ask you to log in using a social media or email account. It’s always worth double checking what kind of access you’re giving them before allowing the two to link up.

Does the internet address begin with "https"? The "s" on the end means there's an extra layer of security on the website. Make sure that "s" is there both before and after you log in.

If a site looks a bit weird, ask an adult before signing up; some websites and apps aren’t always what they seem. If they aren’t sure, you can look together for one you both know is secure.

Getting help

Even if you’re really careful, sometimes you can’t stop your account being hacked.

As a rule, keep your virus protection up to date, and make sure you get permission from a parent/guardian before downloading anything from the internet.

If it happens, don’t panic, disable the account and get rid of all the software associated with it by uninstalling it completely. You can get specific hacking help here from: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo. Try to tell someone you trust if you're worried about it.