How Safe is Your Twitter Account?

2013Avatar_DM_HackingWith the recent notifications by Twitter that many of its accounts may have been hacked, it continues to beg the question of how we keep our social media accounts safe. I find that I still regularly receive ‘Have a look at this’ or “Have you seen what this person’s been saying about you’ tweets from twitter followers. If I didn’t know the people behind the accounts (and know they wouldn’t send me this type of message), I know how easy it would be to click on the link and then have my account hacked too!

There are some simple common sense ‘rules’ that will keep your account safe but I’m amazed at how often people don’t follow them – when was the last time you changed your password for example? And how easy is it to work out what your password is? Are you one of those people who still use ‘password’ as their password? So here’s some tips to keep you safe and solve your problem if you do get hacked (plus there are more tips and ideas from Twitter themselves):

  • How strong is your password? It is recommended to combine upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Ideally it should be random letters but that isn’t easy to remember so try and use something memorable but mix the cases up – for example, instead of ‘mydogrover’ use ‘mydOgroVer2!’.
  • Keep a note of your passwords in a safe place – ideally handwritten in a note book or if you need to keep it on your laptop, list them in an ‘unusual’ programme eg in a PowerPoint file rather than Word or Excel.
  • Change your passwords on a regular basis – but try and keep the timings of these changes different ie not every 4 weeks or a month but changes after 3 weeks, then 7 weeks, then 30 days etc – in other words, try and avoid a predictable pattern.
  • Be mindful of the apps you use – are they from a trusted (visible) source. If in doubt, do not link with them. If they are promising you something for free, then it’s highly likely it’s a phishing scam!
  • Also be mindful of links you click – look at the URL in the address bar of your browser – does it look right or are there odd letters in it?
  • And most vital of all, when did you last update your virus checker? It’s worth the (usually minimal) cost of buying recommended anti-virus software rather than just relying on free versions.

And what to do if you do get hacked? Luckily the solution is simple:

  • DO NOT click on the link in the ‘dodgy’ tweet (if you’re lucky, one of your genuine followers will let you know that you’ve been hacked!)
  • Delete all the hacked tweets.
  • Revoke all your connections (unlink) your apps (this can be done through your Settings in Twitter).
  • Change your password (ideally using the recommendations above).
  • Update your new password in your trusted 3rd-party apps.

Prevention is better than cure but luckily the cure is also relatively simple too!


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