By Frank Emanuele Hacks happen. They can happen to anyone or any brand, no matter how big or small. Most recently, the @NBCNews Twitter account was hacked just last Friday. The hackers tweeted false "Breaking News" reports of the World Trade Center memorial site having been attacked by hijacked planes, complete with flight numbers, an exact time, and the hashtag #groundzeroattacked. The situation was eventually corrected and NBC regained control of the account, but this does raise some extremely important concerns about security in social media. How can you be sure your brand won't be the next @NBCNews? What steps should you take to prevent an incident like this?
When we heard about the @NBCNews incident, the first thing my colleagues and I did was change the Twitter passwords for all of our clients. A strong password can be a big roadblock to a hacker trying to access your account. Just make sure your password isn't a word you'll find in the dictionary. Here's a great tip I picked up from Leo Laporte: for a password that is tough to crack but still easy to remember, choose a string of letters and numbers that look like gibberish to the outside world, but have some significance to you. For example, use the first letters of the first line of your favorite song. HJDMIB68 may look like nonsense, but it's not so hard to remember if you know it stands for "Hey Jude, don't make it bad." Including 68 because the song came out in 1968 adds a layer of complexity, making it harder to guess.
Okay, don't freak out on me. I know I'm throwing a lot of letters at you. But this is a simple one, I promise. When you navigate to Twitter.com, or any website for that matter, you usually put "http://" in front of the address, right? Just adding an extra S for Security can make a difference in the security of your account. Using HTTPS instead of HTTP changes the way your computer communicates with Twitter. It ensures that you have a secure, encrypted connection that is much more difficult for prying eyes to get a look at. Basically, it requires no effort on your part and it makes a hacker's life much harder. What more can you ask for?
Beware of Phishing!
Have you ever gotten an email telling you that your account has been compromised and you should click a link and change your password immediately? Stop right there! Don't click that link! Often these emails are part of what are called phishing scams. Phishing means providing fake links to a trusted site in an effort to steal your information. The site may look exactly like Twitter, but if you look closer at the address, you might notice that it says something like twittr.com. Close, but not the real deal! If you want to change your password just to be safe, go to Twitter without following the link in the email. Similarly, never click the links you get in Direct Messages on Twitter if something looks off, even if they come from your friends. Get rich quick schemes, and messages offering you a chance to see photos of yourself drunk should always be red flags. Think before you click!
What do you think of these tips? Do you know any other social media security tricks? Share them below!