Twitter hacks are far from an uncommon occurrence. Users ranging from major news media outlets to A-list celebrities have suffered the effects of unscrupulous hackers. Depending on the nature of the hack, the effects can range from annoying to disastrous. While there are ways you can recover from a Twitter hack, a far better tactic is to protect yourself from the hack to begin with. These smart steps will help you stay safe on this popular social media site.
1. Create a Strong Password
This may seem obvious, but weak passwords still exist, and they create easy openings for hackers. Strong passwords should contain:
- No dictionary words or common names
- 15 characters
- Upper and lowercase letters, punctuation, and numbers
- A string of characters that seems random
You should create separate passwords for all your accounts, and particularly for corporate accounts. Don’t use the same password for a corporate Twitter account that you use for personal social media sites. Finally, change your password once every three months.
2. Disallow Third Party Access
Take a moment to check which apps have third-party access to your Twitter account. You can find a handy list of all third-party applications in your Twitter settings. These can all serve as security holes. If you don’t police your Twitter account often, you may not even realize how many apps are tweeting inane details about your activity. Maintain your privacy and security and avoid third-party posts that just tell your followers what you’re doing on other apps or social media sites.
3. Avoid Unprotected WiFi
If you’re tweeting on public WiFi, make sure you’re protected from hackers by protecting your personal data. Hotspot Shield can set you up with the necessary protection to keep your device safe. It’s safer to tweet from behind a firewall at home, but this isn’t a reasonable prospect for most social media users. When you just have to tweet a fast pic of a celeb sighting or info about the great deal you just scored, simply stay smart about your WiFi connection and protect your data with HotSpot Shield.
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4. Don’t Link Your Twitter to Webmail
Journalist Matt Honan suffered a massive attack that gave the hacker known as “Phobia” access to his Amazon, Apple, Google, and Twitter accounts. Honan later stated that the attack was made possible in part because he linked all these accounts to his public Gmail account. Once the hacker had access to his Gmail, he was able to access all other accounts easily just by requesting a password reset.
To protect yourself from a similar hack, link your Twitter account (and all others that you want to protect) to an email address that’s not hosted by a cloud service. Use an email address you’ve created solely for this purpose and not one that’s published elsewhere as part of your contact information.
5. Keep Web Software Up-To-Date
Reuters suffered an attack to both its Twitter and WordPress accounts that resulted in a series of false news posts. The WordPress account was compromised because it was using an outdated software version. Out of date software for web accounts can compromise your Twitter account as well if the two are linked. For example, WordPress allows users to set up auto-tweets for new blog posts. Thus accessing the WordPress account will also provide hackers with a simple way to create Tweets in your name.
6. Opt-In to Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication will add an extra step to the sign in process for your Twitter account. This is a handy feature that Twitter users can set up in their account settings. When you set up two-factor identification, your Twitter account will ask for a verification code each time you sign in. Twitter sends you the code via SMS or email when you want to log in. While this extra step can add a few seconds to the sign-in process, it will save you from the hours of cleanup that can come from a Twitter hack.
Smart preventative tactics will help you protect your Twitter account from potential hackers. Whether you have a popular personal account or run a corporate Twitter page, it’s important to keep your info out of dangerous hands.