The Twitter Series: All About Twitter Security

Every now and then, you hear about a Twitter hijacking. Even President Obama has confirmed that his Twitter account has been hijacked before, which resulted in the immediate shutdown of his account and an investigation by the Twitter team. According to Twitter, the accounts were hijacked using the company’s internal support tools. Basically, someone hacked into the tools that Twitter’s support team uses to help people who had forgotten their passwords or needed to edit their email address. Twitter immediately took the support tools offline. Even though the big stories like this all revolve around high profile celebrities, Twitter security is a real issue, even for the average twitterer. Want to know more about Twitter security? Here are some answers that may interest you.

* What exactly do hackers do when they break into Twitter accounts?

Typically, hackers take over Twitter accounts in order to post links to spam or viruses. Obviously, fraud is an issue as well. Followers tend to trust the people that they’re following, so any messages encouraging users to buy into a scam or to believe false information is a danger. For instance, a hacker could tweet about a fraudulent charity and post the link, asking followers to contribute. False rumors about companies and stocks can also have terrible results.

* What can you do to protect your Twitter account?

Protect your Twitter credentials – Be vigilant and be on the lookout for suspicious Twitter activity. If someone’s links or postings or suspect, go with your gut feeling. Users can install client side security tools that ensure that they are giving their information to the genuine Twitter site only. Also, control and keep tabs on your Twitter information. Any application or website that comes with an automatic posting capability poses more of a threat.

* Is there anything else you should look out for?

“Twitter-squatting” occurs when the names of people or organizations are registered by fraudsters. It’s safest to make sure a person or brand name is registered fairly quickly in order to ensure that no one else can register first. The “Trending Topics” sidebar on the right of the Twitter homepage also poses a threat. A hacker could tweet multiple different sentences using the same keyword, and have a malicious link connected to that keyword when it shows up in the “Trending Topics” section.