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Don’t get Twitter Hacked

If you follow Burger King online, eat at Burger King, or if you’re a fan, I feel for you. The whopper chain woke up Monday morning to a PR crisis. Their Twitter account had been hacked and the hacker was hard at work posting offensive messages.  The social media team tackled the issue by asking Twitter to suspend their account and late Monday night, they had finally regained access and apologized while the Twitter community and rival chains laughed at their expense.

While the embarrassment will be short lived, the Burger King account did gain a few more followers and their reputation likely won’t suffer unlike the Fox News hack which sent tweets and fake stories about Obama’s death. The fake tweets garnered a lot of attention, got several retweets, and it has a major mess for Fox News to clean up.

Since news spreads fast via social media, web hacks have become rampant. Unfortunately, it won’t be long before another site is hacked. It’s almost common place especially because big brands leave themselves vulnerable and it’s almost too easy for hackers to find a way in. However, this can all be prevented with a few simple precautions.

Set a strong password – I know it sounds simple but you’d be surprised by some of the passwords that companies choose for social media accounts. I’m willing to bet that Burger King had their password set to “whopper123.” Don’t choose a password that has anything to do with the brand, just like you wouldn’t choose a personal password that includes your date of birth, your name, a nickname, your favorite color, or street address. These are the easiest ways anyone gains access – a few guesses and they’re into your personal account. Pick something unique, toss in a few numbers, a special character, and you’re good to go. Also, change it often and don’t reveal it to too many people. Only the people updating the account should have the password.

OAuth Authentication – What’s that? It’s a way for Twitter to verify 3rd party apps because chances are you’re probably tweeting from your phone or various Twitter clients. Make sure you use apps which are using OAuth service for authentication. If you have unintentionally approved an application, then you can always revoke access, by going to Settings > Connections and then clicking on Revoke Access for that particular app.

Don’t tie emails to a webmail account – Twitter requires that you have an email to sign up. Awesome! You’ve got a gmail junk account for just the occasion. Chances are you probably don’t check it and it’s a place for all your junk mail. It’s also a perfect target for hackers because you’ve probably set an unsecure password for it and don’t monitor it as much.

Or, perhaps it’s an account that you use for everything and it’s listed everywhere. The hacker can access the account, guess the password, pretend to be you, and get in. “Forget password” is the magical gateway but if you’ve got a work account or a hosted personal account you’ll be a bit more secure.

Protect your password – this is a bit different from step one. Don’t use the same password for each site. I know it sucks but invent new passwords and if an employee that previously managed the account quits, you need to change passwords immediately. Believe it or not, some hacks occur from disgruntled employees that still have access.

Last but not least, always be monitoring your social media presence even if you’re on vacation. Unfortunately, social media doesn’t take a vacation and that’s when your brand might be vulnerable to an attack. While you’re on a yacht sipping mai tais, your brand presence might be jeopardized and your account might be hacked. It could happen even if you take these steps, especially if you’re being targeted by a group like Anonymous (hopefully you’re not) but most likely you’ll be safe if you just follow the precautions listed above.

Let us know if you’ve got some Twitter hack proof tips of your own and share with us in the comments below.

 

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