Advice to My 10 Year Old Regarding SnapChat Hack

SnapchatSnapChat was recently hacked. 4.6M user account names and their associated phone numbers were accessed and published on the web and put on dozens of torrent and mirroring sites. Users will be exposed to tons of additional spam and phishing exploits.

This prompted me to give my ten year old budding social media maven the following decidedly boring parental advice:

  • The more accounts you have out there, the more likely this is to happen – it is better to be selective and strategic about which services you and your friends are going to use rather than trying out every single one and then getting bored 5 mins later and leaving a residue account to be hacked.
  • Now that your account info and telephone number are out there, people may call your number or send you messages designed to trick you – they will look like messages from friends, etc. This is going to suck, and you are going to have to be very careful what you click on. I’d strongly suggest confirming by text any link a friend sends you before clicking on it.
  • If you cannot confirm it, never, EVER, click on a link someone sends you in some sketchy way.  99% of the time it is phishing designed to steal from you.
  • Ask a grown-up if you are at all uncertain – talk to your parents or go and INITIATE a separate note to the person (i.e. don’t reply to the orginal one) and ask them if they sent you something.
  • Close down any accounts you are no longer using on a very regular basis – yes, I know this will be a tragic loss for your 3 followers on that system.  Trust me, they will get over it -it is more fun to be mysterious anyway.
  • Now is the right time to change all the passwords on all your accounts (now you understand my advice about having fewer dormant ones, huh?).
  • Digital life sucks and it will almost certainly get worse before it gets better through biometrics or some other means, so be smart out there and try always to tell the difference between something that USEFUL and something that is merely NEW. You are the first generation growing up on the internet where strangers with bad intentions can get right into the least expected places – like your pocket, your purse, your chat stream with friends. Be careful out there.
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