How to protect your Twitter account from being hacked
Your Twitter account is valuable. Whether you use it for personal or business tweeting, or both, that value is not measured in pounds and pence. It’s measured in trust. Many of your followers trust what you say, and it’s this trust that hackers want to steal.
Prevention is always better than cure and these tips will help you to better protect the value in your Twitter account, by making it harder for hackers to break in.
1. Check you’re using a genuine log in page
One method hackers use to snare passwords is to send out spam emails asking users to re-enter their account name and password. The email contains a link to what looks like a genuine Twitter login page but is actually a fake.
To get around this, bookmark the genuine Twitter login page on your browser and only go to that page via your bookmark. Always be suspicious of links in emails. Read the website address carefully to ensure it really does say https://twitter.com.
2. Distrust any site or app that asks for your password
The moment you’re asked to input your Twitter password into an app or a non-Twitter website, be suspicious. Unless you’re confident that the account or app is genuine, you’re in danger of giving your password to a hacker.
3. Use a long, clever password
Most of us hate remembering complicated passwords, which is why so many accounts are easy to break into - we continue to use passwords that are easy to crack.
Twitter’s advice is to use a password that’s at least 10 characters long and contains upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use complete words.
Long passwords can be daunting, but there are techniques for making them easier to remember.
4. Never use the same password on two accounts
This is hard, because most of us have so many different accounts. But it’s a good habit to get into. As with long passwords, there are techniques for creating unique codes that aren’t impossible to remember.
5. Change your password often
On top of creating long, complex passwords, it’s wise to update them every few months. It takes a bit of time, but that’s nothing to the hours you’ll probably spend clearing up the damage after being hacked.
If you use apps that require your Twitter password, these may not work until you input the new password.
6. Use two-step authentication
Introduced in May 2013, turning this on means after entering your Twitter password, you’re sent another code via text message that you also need to type in before being allowed into your Twitter account.
To activate this, go the Settings then Account and tick ‘Require verification code when I sign in’.
Update: Twitter have now added a stronger, alternative two-step authentication process using Twitter apps on mobile phones and tablets. Click here to read more about it.
7. Never tell anyone your password
Sharing passwords can be quick and convenient. But every password shared is a password at risk of being abused, meaning the safest approach is to keep it secret, always. If circumstances mean you do need to share it, make a point of changing it as soon as possible.
8. Virus and malware protection
Nasty programs that find their way onto your computer could steal your Twitter login details. Protect against these in the same way you defend against other dangerous downloads, using anti-virus software along with a dose of common sense.
Despite all your precautions, there’s always a risk of someone breaking into your account. If you think this has happened, click here for advice on what to do.