Twitter account hacks on the rise, new security coming
It’s amazing what a single tweet can do. Yesterday, the Associated Press Twitter account (@AP) was hacked and a tweet was sent out announcing explosions at the White House and that President Obama was injured.
Not only did this send journalists who scan Twitter feeds (especially from the AP) into full news mode, breaking the news that sent the Dow Jones Industrial into a drastic drop. The Dow plunged more than 130 points, or roughly 1 percent, after the fake Twitter posting before quickly rebounding. As of 1:50 p.m, it was up 130 points, or 0.9 percent, to 14,698. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell sharply, but recovered after AP confirmed that the tweets were false.
The tweet, which came shortly after 1 p.m. Eastern Time, claimed there had been two explosions at the White House and that President Barack Obama had been injured. The AP’s mobile application also was compromised.
This was just one of several Twitter account hacks of high-profile accounts in recent months. Others big accounts hacked have included Burger King, 60 Minutes, the BBC and many others.
According to Wired, Twitter has a working two-step security solution undergoing internal testing before incrementally rolling it out to users, something it hopes to begin doing shortly.
Twitter is catching up to other social networks by implementing a two-step security process, also known as two-factor or multifactor authentication. It can prevent hackers from gaining access to accounts more effectively than a single password. It will require a user to not only enter a password, but also an auto-generated code that’s sent to a device owned by the user.
Twitter posted a job listing for software engineers in February to build such a solution to combat these Twitter account hacks.
It’s unclear when Twitter will launch the new security features publicly, but the beta testing mode is underway for highly-visible Twitter accounts like Justin Bieber, the New York Times and the Associated Press.
How to prevent a Twitter account hack
While the beta test is underway, you should always be aware of your account health and security. Here are some good ways to make sure you’re locking down your account to keep hacker’s prying eyes at bay.
At the very least, fatten your password. If you’re password is ‘abcd1234’ or ‘happy’, you’re already in trouble. Change that password to something longer with some numbers and symbols. For instance turn ‘happy’ in to H@ppY586! That is much more difficult to hack.
Shake up your passwords – often. Create a different password for everything related to your online life. Think about it, you don’t have the same key to open your house, car and safe. So why would you have the same passwords?
Get a shot of the virus vaccine. Update your security software right now. Don’t wait. Doing so can put you in a better position to avoid the aftershock of other hacks that come dropping in on your account.
Always update security settings in your account. Users need to remember to exercise the same caution with their Twitter accounts that they would with their email or banking websites.
Suspect everyone. If a friend, relative or acquaintance tweets something that is out of character, assume that it isn’t from them. If the tweet feels like it’s out of the norm, it probably is. Don’t click on any links! Best bet is to call or email that person and confirm the message was real.