How to Avoid Getting Hacked on Twitter

If you follow E! on Twitter then you’ll be aware that their account was hacked last Saturday.

e hacked!

I have to admit that I was amused. And I lolled. Then I lolled again when the real E! tweeted this:

e hacked

Some incorrect information”, but the rest was true…

Ok, back to being serious.

The Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for the hack and the super fake tweets received thousands of retweets over the weekend. By the way, don’t click on any of the shortlinks if you come across them. You’ll end up on downloading malware and other spammy damaging sites.

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E! suspended the account which boasts over 5.2 million followers.

Last month the Syrian Electronic Army claimed to have hacked the Associated Press Twitter account and released tweets about an attack on the White House. It actually affected the stock market temporarily.

Oh, the power of social media.

And hacking isn’t new.

In fact, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Fox News, and even the official FIFA World Cup account were all hacked once upon a time.

For anyone that gets hacked it can be damaging to their reputation to say the least. But when we marketers use Twitter as part of our foundation to making money online, it can cause massive hurt to our income.

So how do we avoid getting hacked on Twitter?

Here are a few tips.

1. Pick a Strong Password


Pretty self-explanatory. But I know some people that have the same simple password for each and every online account they have. Including their online banking account!

Try not to use passwords that include actual words.

Bots can pick up on this. Instead, think of a unique combination of letters that spell out absolutely nothing. Throw in some numbers in the middle. And always keep a note of it somewhere safe. You wouldn’t believe the amount of unnecessary stress I’ve put myself through just because I couldn’t remember my own password.

Also, don’t use the same password for every account.

You can have the same combination of letters then end it with the first three letters of the domain.

For example, say my password was pengli123. For Twitter I could put it as pengli123twi, for Facebook pengli123fac and for Pinterest pengli123pin. That way you won’t readily forget. And it still remains unique to that login.

2. Be Wary of Third-Party Apps


When you connect your Twitter to a third-party app, you are given two options. To read-only or to read-and-write. With the latter, you are giving the app permission to post updates on your behalf.

This can be a problem when the app isn’t legit and abuses your account.

To be safe, set all your third-party apps (if you have any connected) to read-only.

3. Expand URLs


Because of Twitter’s 140 character limit, the vast majority of people will shorten their tweeted links. This makes it difficult for us to know where you’ll be sent if you click on it.

So that’s why it’s a good idea to expand shorten URLs first.

My suggestion is using LongURL. Super simple. Just copy and paste the shortened link to check what the full URL is. This ensures you don’t end up on some phishing site.

4. Stop Password Resets


If you forget your Twitter password, you are able to reset it by simply entering your user handle and Twitter will send out a password reset email. When you click the link in the email, your password will be reset.

This can be dangerous, especially if other people are initiating a password reset.

However by changing the settings on your Twitter account, you can enable personal information to be used before a password reset. That means that only you will have access to resetting the password.

(I’ve typed and read the words “password” and “reset” so many times in the past few sentences that they don’t make sense to me anymore.)

5. Treat DMs with Caution


If you’re one of those people that follows a LOT of other people in order to get more followers in return (nothing wrong with that), then you need to be cautious over the direct messages (DMs) that you receive.

DMs are only applicable to parties that follow one another, so if you’re receiving DMs from accounts that aren’t people that you know in real life, you are at risk of phishing scams. Although DMs are supposed to be private, they may be tapped by third-party apps which have access to your account.

These phishing scams rely on links within DMs.

So first up, don’t follow too many people on Twitter (I’m talking hundreds and thousands).

Secondly, check the content of the message before clicking on any links. 

And thirdly, if you’re on mobile, wait til you’re on a computer before opening a link. With small screens it can be difficult to tell if a message is legit or not.


Final note, if you have been hacked or think your account has been compromised, check out Twitter’s help center to rectify the situation stat.

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