We’ve all seen it: Twitter accounts we follow, run by people and companies we trust, tweeting links to weight loss and free iPad websites. Surely you’ve received a direct message from a friend announcing that they “can’t believe what you’re doing in this photo,” accompanied by a phishing link, which will ask you for your username and password to view the content that actually doesn’t exist.
That’s where hacks can be dangerous. If you use the same password for everything, hackers could gain access to your email, Facebook, or even bank accounts.
Consider what happened to the NBC News Twitter account in September, just before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 Ground Zero Attacks. Hacking collective The Script Kiddies hacked the account, tweeting that Ground Zero had been attacked, complete with specific flight numbers and a #groundzeroattacked hashtag.
So what can you do to prevent your personal and company accounts from being hacked? Here are five tips to help:
- Create an extremely secure password. It’s tempting, but don’t use the same password you use for any other site. Include numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters. Consider using a phrase instead of a single word.
- Clean out your application permissions regularly. Use Twitter’s Connections page to manage which applications have access to your data. With all the Twitter tools available, many of us have given a lot of applications constant access to our data. Should one of those sites get hacked, you get hacked, too. Revoke permission from applications you no longer use.
- Always use HTTPS. The S stands for ‘secure,’ and adding it signals your browser to use an extra layer of encryption to protect your information. Twitter has an option for you to turn this on permanently. Just visit the Account Settings page.
- Beware of phishing schemes. If you receive an email saying that your account has been compromised, and you must click a provided link and type in your username and password, don’t do it! The website may look exactly like Twitter, but if you look closely at the URL, you may see it says something like ‘twtter.com.’
- Always sign out. If you’re using Twitter on a public computer, don’t forget to sign out when you’re finished! This includes signing out of any applications and dashboards you may use to manage your social media accounts.
Follow these simple guidelines – and incorporate them into your employees’ social networking training – and your Twitter account should be airtight!