An Interview with Holly Medwid About Online Security

Photo Credit: William Iven

Photo Credit: William Iven

Have you ever had a blast from the past resurface (or maybe not so much a blast, but more of a toxic shock wave)?   If so, you know how unsettling, it can be.  All those old fears and insecurities come flooding back in, you might wonder “why now?”, you might even worry that they might try to stick around and cause some havoc in the much-better-life you’ve built.  So what do you do?  
Last week, this very thing happened to me, so I called in some backup.  Online Strategist, Holly Medwid, is the backbone of many businesses, including Caela Berry Coaching.  She has a formidable knack for online security and was happy to sit down and share how she secured all my online profiles and accounts to reduce the risk of my passwords being hacked, to prevent someone from adding themselves to our community through fake social media accounts, and to avoid someone finding my personal information online.

 

What's the first thing someone should do if they think they've been hacked?

The first thing to do is take a deep breath and calm down.  Our first reaction is to go into full-blown panic mode, but you need to slow down to focus on the tasks ahead.  

Step One: Change all of your passwords to all of your online accounts, especially the ones you suspect have been hacked.  Make your password something that is impossible to guess.  Example: TM#kw5t&#w!S](e8

Step Two: Take a close look at the account to see if there are any status updates or messages sent from your account that you yourself did not send.  If something has been posted from your account that wasn’t from you, delete it. If private messages were sent to your contacts, get in touch directly and explain your account has been compromised and the last message was not from you.  

Step Three: Tell your friends and family members.  Not only will this make you feel safer, but it will help to have extra eyes on your accounts in the future.  If someone sees something out of character posted on your accounts, they can alert you to it if you haven't already seen it.

Step Four: Deauthorize apps on Facebook, Google, Twitter or any other program that allows extensions and applications.  

Step Five: Check your bank statements.  If it was a random attack, it’s likely that this person is going after your financials.  Alert your banks, disable your Paypal and credit cards and check your bank statement.     

 

What do you do when someone has added you with a fake profile?

There are two things you can do if someone is adding you with a fake profile. One is to block them completely so they can’t see anything you do from the fake account they created.  But that doesn’t stop them from creating another fake account, so the second thing you can do is set your accounts to private if you still don’t feel safe.  

 

This person is friends with a lot of people I still know.  How do I prevent someone from finding me through friends?

Here’s the unfortunate part: unless you're friends control their visible mutual friends list, this person can still find you this way, UNLESS you block their account, which will make you invisible to them.  Do this on Facebook to give yourself extra security:

1.  On the top right-hand corner, click the little arrow that is pointing down and select ‘Settings’

2.  Click ‘Privacy’ on the top left-hand side

3.  You will see an ‘Edit’ button next to a list of actions where you can choose who can see your stuff, contact you or look you up.  The choice is yours who you limit these settings to.  You can be as selective as only a few people or extend it to your friend group.  


Does "reporting" someone do anything?

Absolutely, it does.  I’ve been able to get abusive accounts shut down through reporting in social media programs. If in doubt, always flag or report the incident so there is a record.  

 

After all my settings are where they need to be, then what?

Take a step back and ask someone to be your internet bodyguard for a little while.  I would recommend a close friend or family member that you trust with your personal information and accounts.  This is a great time to unplug and recharge from the entire ordeal.  Violation of privacy is one of the most uncomfortable things we have to deal with in the age of the social internet.  It will never be 100% secure, but there are steps you can take to make your connected experience safer and more enjoyable.  Don’t stay away from technology and isolate yourself by thinking it’s safer to be offline.  The internet is a global community, and you are a very important member of that community.  Social media exists so we can have the imperative conversations that will guide our society in the right direction.  Share your experience of being hacked with other people, and get their feedback and insight on how they would or have dealt with it.  Better yet, share what’s happening in the private Facebook group so our community can rally around you to lend support, comfort and encouragement.  You don’t have to isolate yourself.  You don’t have to hide.  

Instead, slowly ease yourself back into being connected and practice safe and clean social media habits.  Don’t share your location or information about where you will be in the future.  Ignore the negative click bait type articles.  In fact, ignore all of the negativity that is being posted online.  If someone is notorious for posting a doom and gloom perspective on our modern day world, hide their posts.  They won’t know.

If you still aren’t feeling great about your internet security, connect with me online and send me a direct message to chat.  I’m more than happy to talk about how you can protect yourself better in the interwebs.  You can find me at @hollymedwid on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  My accounts are set to private, so just send me a request to follow.  

 

Caela Berry