Last week the world was rocked by a tweet issued by the official Associated Press (@AP) Twitter profile that reported that President Barack Obama had been injured after two explosions in the White House.
Except (and of course), the news was fake. There were no explosions at the White House, and President Obama had not been injured. The problem? The source, the @AP Twitter account, was real, and had been compromised by hackers, and Twitter has now warned journalists and media companies that they expect these attacks to continue.
Now, in a memo sent to news organisations, Twitter has urged all reporters and media firms to work harder to keep their accounts secure, and the document, which provides good advice for all users of Twitter, can be read in full below.
Please help us keep your accounts secure. There have been severalrecent incidents of high-profile news and media Twitter handles being compromised. We believe that these attacks will continue, and that
news and media organizations will continue to be high value targets to
What to be aware of:
These incidents appear to be spear phishing attacks that target your
corporate email. Promoting individual awareness of these attacks
within your organization and following the security guidelines below
is vital to preventing abuse of your Twitter accounts.
Take these steps right now:
Change your Twitter account passwords. Never send passwords via
e-mail, even internally. Ensure that passwords are strong- at least 20
characters long. Use either randomly-generated passwords (like
“LauH6maicaza1Neez3zi”) or a random string of words (like “hewn cloths
titles yachts refine”).
Keep your email accounts secure. Twitter uses email for password
resets and official communication. If your email provider supports
two-factor authentication, enable it. Change your e-mail passwords,
and use a password different from your Twitter account password.
Review your authorized applications. Log in to Twitter and review the
applications authorized to access your accounts. If you don’t
recognize any of the applications, contact us immediately by emailing
Help us protect you. We’re working to make sure we have the most
updated information on our partners’ accounts. Please send us a
complete list of all accounts affiliated with your organization, so
that we can help keep them protected.
Build a plan. Create a formal incident response plan. If you suspect
your organization is being targeted by a phishing campaign or has been
compromised by a phishing attack, enact the plan.
Contact us immediately at email@example.com with the word “Hacking”
in the subject. Include copies of suspected phishing emails.
If you lose access to an account, file a Support ticket and email the
ticket number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review our security guidelines to help make sure your accounts are as
secure as possible.
Talk with your security team about ensuring that your corporate email
system is as safe as possible. A third-party provider that allows for
two-factor authentication might be a safer solution.
Strong security practices will reduce your vulnerability to phishing.
Consider the following suggestions:
Designate one computer to use for Twitter. This helps keep your
Twitter password from being spread around. Don’t use this computer to
read email or surf the web, to reduce the chances of malware
Minimize the number of people that have access. Even if you use a
third-party platform to avoid sharing the actual Twitter account
password, each of these people is a possible avenue for phishing or
Check for signs of compromise. Checking your email address and
authorized apps weekly or monthly can help detect unauthorized access
and address the problem before access is abused.
Double-check the email address associated with your Twitter accounts:
Review the apps authorized to access your accounts:
Change your password regularly. Changing your Twitter password
quarterly or yearly can reset the clock if a password has leaked.
Using a Password Manager integrated into your browser can help prevent
successful phishing attacks.
Third-party solutions such as 1Password or LastPass, as well as the
browser’s built-in password manager, will only auto-fill passwords on
the correct website. If the password manager does not auto-fill, this
might indicate a phishing attempt.
Password managers make it much easier to use a very strong password.
Very difficult passwords will discourage memorization, which will
greatly reduce the chances of being phished.
Be certain to set a master password, since otherwise passwords may be
Don’t hesitate to email us if you need assistance.
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