Friday, March 17, 2017

Deter Hackers by Improving Online Security on Social Media Accounts

As time goes on and technology continuously improves, the ability to hack into the new technology improves with it. So, because hackers are getting smarter and finding ways to attack our internet-enabled devices, we too have to develop and work harder to prevent such attacks. Over the past few years, popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been targets of hacking and phishing schemes. According to Jessica Roy's article in the L.A. Times, one feature on your Twitter account could be making you more vulnerable to hackers.

Lately, there have been several situations in which Twitter accounts have had their security compromised. From celebrities like Justin Bieber to multi-million-dollar businesses like McDonald's, hackers are taking over. Sometimes they just want to "troll" and post something that they think is funny or that might get a reaction. Other times, the messages are designed to trick other people into clicking a link that will allow the hacker to break into other accounts. 

In at least one case, the cyber attacks were due to third-party tools and applications, such as "Twitter Counter." Years ago, when Twitter was still new, third-party applications like Twitter Counter allowed users to keep track of followers, find new followers, and post their Tweets on a schedule. Nowadays, few people use such tools, because Twitter has since updated their system to be able to offer many of the same abilities. However, even though most users stopped using Twitter Counter, many of them forgot to disconnect the tool from their account, leaving them vulnerable to a cyber attack. 

Because the third-party tool is more easily hacked than Twitter itself, criminals often look to use a program like Twitter Counter as a springboard to get into an account. Once they have hacked the app that has permission to access your account, they will have the ability to post from your account. In order to prevent similar issues on your account, make sure to check the options on your account (under "settings and privacy") and revoke access to any third-party applications that you don't use. To make your account even more secure, Twitter has some built-in security features. 

First, two-step authentication can be enabled on your account. While it seems more annoying to have to put in a password and a special code sent to your cell phone by text message or call, overall it can be worth it to avoid data thieves. Additionally, to make your account even more secure, you can choose a complicated password with a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols. Finally, make sure your password doesn't match that on one of your other accounts. If you use the same password for every platform, then if one account is compromised, they all will be. These quick and easy changes to your behavior online can help to protect you and make it much more difficult for hackers to make you their next target.

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