5 Ways to Protect Your Twitter Account from Cyber Attacks

In 2009, we saw the Twitter fail whale way too many times. There were several attacks that crippled Twitter and had many of its users (me included) wondering if they would ever be able to access their accounts again. In its 2010 Threat Predictions report, McAfee has predicted that social networking sites, like Twitter, and third-party applications will be the major victims of cyber threats. Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, released a statement,

“ Over the past decade, we’ve seen a tremendous improvement in the ability to successfully monitor, uncover, and stop cyber crime. We’re now facing emerging threats from the explosive growth of social networking sites, the exploitation of popular applications and more advanced techniques used by cyber criminals.”

Some of Twitter’s third-party applications; for instance, Bit.ly and Tinyurl provide users a way to shorten their URLs, so their tweets can fit in the 140 characters window. McAfee says that these abbreviated URLs can help people and services attempting to do a cybercrime against Twitter. People have become more trusting clicking on URLs shortened by these services, so they will not be as apprehensive to click on them. Here are a few ways you can protect your Twitter account from any security threats:

Password Management

1. Don’t Tell Anyone Your Password – Your password gives instant access to your private information. Therefore, never give anyone your password. Even if people from Twitter contact you claiming they need your username and password, do not give it to them. Only you should know your password.

2. Change Your Password Regularly – People usually get stuck using the same password for months and months, even years It is good practice to change your password every 60-90 days. Mark it on a calendar and send yourself a reminder so you don’t forget.

3. Have a Strong Password – Passwords are usually thought up from something dear to a person’s heart. Therefore, you should have a strong password that will make it hard for anyone to guess. Here is a good guideline for password creation:

  • Include numbers, symbols, upper and lowercase letters in passwords
  • Password length should be around 12 to 14 characters
  • If the system is case sensitive use capital and lower-case letters
  • Password should be easy to remember for the user

Backup Your Tweets

There are several services that provide a way for you to backup your tweets. This helps, so that if you do fall victim to a cybercrime, there is a way to recover all of your tweets. Here are three backup services that you can use:

  1. TweetBackup
  2. BackupMyTweets
  3. Backupify

Regularly Check What Services Are Connected to Your Twitter Account

McAfee said in their 2010 Threat Prediction Report that third-party applications will be one of the main reasons for security threats. Therefore, review which applications are connected to your Twitter account. If you haven’t used one in awhile, remove the connection. You can always reconnect it, if needed. Login to Twitter, Settings, go to Connections, and Revoke Access.

protect_twitter_account_connections

Block and Report Spammers

Spam accounts on Twitter usually have repetitive tweets saying the same thing, and trying to sell a product or service. If you get contacted by a spammer, you can block and report them to Twitter. In the sidebar, there is an “Actions” area. You will see a link “Report to Spam.” This will notify the Twitter team about the Twitter account, and let them start investigating it.

Preview Shortened URLs Before Clicking

There are several services that will allow you to preview abbreviated URLs. Freenuts has a list of ten web sites that you can use to expand shortened URLs. There are two Firefox add-ons that will let you preview the contents before actually clicking on it:

If you use, standalone service Tweetdeck, they have a feature that allows you to preview shortened URLs before you click on it.

What are some ways that you are protecting your tweets from attackers?