Details are currently still a bit sketchy but Twitter was allegedly hacked overnight.
As you can see, all indications point to the “Iranian Cyber Army” but my gut feeling tells me that a very different entity is likely the culprit. There’s also some talk that Twitter itself was not hacked at all, but that the domain name itself was simply re-routed to another server (now confirmed by Twitter), allowing the invaders to display their message.
But why take the risk?
Unfortunately, Twitter has a bit of a history with lousy security protocols. In just the past few months, major internal documents have been leaked, Twitter was stopped with a DOS attack, Jonathan Ross accidentally unveiled his email address and was then unable to remove it, and the admin team thought that the word “password” was good enough to use as an, uh, password. Twitter is very much a work in progress, but you don’t see this stuff happening on Facebook.
Here are five ways to protect your Twitter account now for the next time this happens.
1. Change Your Password Regularly
It makes sense to change your Twitter password on a regular basis – certainly every month or two. And change it to something that is hard to break, and made up of 10 mixed characters of letters and numbers – I recommend using this website, which is free and generates superb passwords.
2. If You Use The Same Password On Twitter For Other Websites, Change Them
We still don’t know if Twitter has been properly hacked, but if it has your data might have been compromised. This means that your email address and password may well be in the hands of somebody who wants to do bad things with them. So, if you’ve been using the same password on Twitter that you have for, say, your Facebook page, blog, or worse, your bank account, you should go there and change them right now.
And stop doing that – while it’s convenient, it’s far too much of a risk to use the same password for everything on the internet. If you have a lot to lose – and let’s face it, who doesn’t? – consider a premium service like 1Password.
3. Don’t Openly Share Sensitive Information
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how often people discuss private security data on an open public platform like Twitter. You casually chatting with friends about why you hate your HSBC bank account tells everybody else that you (duh) bank with HSBC. Boasting that you’re about to spend two weeks in Barbados tells everybody else that your house is going to be unmanned for a fortnight.
Think before you tweet. Think about who might be reading this information – what is the worst thing they could do with it?
4. Don’t Panic
The thing that concerned me most during the Mikeyy exploit was how so many high-profile accounts (including celebrities and social media ‘gurus’) were sharing damaging and outright false information about the incident, which led to a lot of unnecessary panic.
While it’s absolutely normal to be concerned about your private data during events like this, analysing and evaluating the situation in a calm and intelligent manner is essential. Be careful what you retweet. Double-check everything twice. Don’t assume somebody else knows what is going on, no matter who they are. Find out for yourself.
5. Don’t Be That Guy
As above, it’s easy during situations like this to panic and start retweeting and spreading any old nonsense around the interwebs. Don’t be that guy. Don’t make things worse by initiating or sharing poorly-consider opinion and hyperbole. Make sure the information you are passing on to your network is as accurate as possible at the time it is delivered.
YOU need to be the voice of reason. If you’re running around like a headless chicken, talking about alien invasion and/or the apocalypse, then YOU are part of the problem. Try to be the solution. And if no reasonable information is forthcoming, avoid crazy speculation, certainly if you’re seen as an authority by your network.
After all, you want things to stay that way, right?