3 Signs Your Streaming Accounts Have Been Hacked

Binge-watch safely! Be on the lookout for these red flags, and learn how to protect your streaming accounts—and your bank account.

Our streaming services can feel like part of the family. Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and others offer up television shows to binge-watch when we feel like staying in and movies when we need an adventure, a laugh, or a little romance. When one of our streaming services is hacked, it can almost feel like a violation of our home. The hacker has access to our favourites list and can add and subtract their own picks, as well as watch our account without paying. Even worse, they can steal personal information from our profile. (This hacking horror story is warning to take online security more seriously.)

So, how can you tell if someone has unauthorized access to your streaming services? Here’s how to find out for sure—and what to do about it.

Strange shows are popping up

Checking for unusual shows is one of the easiest ways to tell if your streaming account has been hacked, according to Fausto Oliveira, principal security architect at Acceptto. Most streaming services have a “continue watching” or “recently watched” list. If you see shows in one of these lists that you haven’t watched, this is a sign that someone else has access to your account. Share an account? Ask your friends or family if they possibly watched those shows. If not, your account may be compromised.

There has been an unusual log-in attempt

If you’re still unsure as to whether your account has been hacked, check Recent Logins, Recent Device Streaming Activity, or the Manage Your Devices section of your account. Here, you will find a list of all of the devices that have logged into your account. Look for anything strange that may be a clue. For example, maybe you only use Apple products and you see a sign-in from an Android device, or you only use your television to stream shows and you see that an Xbox has signed into your account. A suspicious device is a good indication that a stranger is using your account.

If everything looks fine, be sure to take a look at the location of the devices in the list. You may see an address that is clearly not yours. This is another red flag.

Your account has been upgraded

Do you suddenly have add-on channels or was a movie you’ve never heard of rented on your Prime Video account? A stranger has probably been making some upgrades on your account to get maximum enjoyment—while using your wallet.

What to do if you suspect your account has been hacked

If you think your account has been compromised, change your password immediately, and when the service asks if you want to log out on all devices, do it. This will sever the connection the hacker has with your account. (Change your settings immediately if you use any of these weak passwords.)

Next, check to see if there were any charges to your account that you didn’t make, like additional services added or unwanted movies ordered. If you find some unusual charges, contact the streaming service’s customer service department to see if you can have the charges reversed.

Prevent your streaming account from being hacked again

There are some simple ways to better secure your streaming services, and it starts with better password hygiene, according to Daniel Smith, head of security research at Radware, a cybersecurity company. Use complex passwords, and don’t reuse passwords across different accounts. These are just two of the password mistakes hackers hope you’ll make, and avoiding them can dramatically improve your security.

Also be careful when you travel. It’s become commonplace for hotels and other travel rentals to allow visitors to log in with their own streaming service. “Exercise caution when doing this and ensure that you properly log out of these services when checking out,” says Smith. “Leaving your streaming service logged into a shared device, like a rental’s TV, can lead to a compromised account.” (Find out 13 more ways hackers get you when you travel.)

Another good practice is to be very careful with emails. Tim Sadler, the CEO and cofounder of email security company Tessian, offers these tips:

  • Question the legitimacy of any emails that come from streaming services, and if the email is asking for “urgent action,” verify the request by contacting the company directly.

  • A particular phishing scam reels people in with a billing-error email, so check your bank statements to see whether you have actually paid your monthly fee for your streaming service.

  • Scrutinize landing pages that links in emails take you to—before entering payment or account information. For example, does the URL match the legitimate brand’s URL, and can you see the padlock on the web address bar? If so, the site is probably legit.

Next, learn 18 secrets from people who never get hacked.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest