Twitter amounts to serious business for many celebrities and large corporations. Product endorsements, promotional details and event advertising represent a growing market in both celebrity and corporate publicity machines. Like many of its recognized users, the value of Twitter's instantaneous mass communication abilities has not been lost on Internet hackers. Twitter fan favorites, including Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Britney Spears and Khloe Kardashian, have fallen prey to the recent trend in celebrity cyber-attacks, whereby hackers tweet fabricated content using victims' personal profiles. Burger King became the latest victim of a Twitter attack. Hackers defaced the fast food chain's account by making it appear as McDonald's, and tweeting vulgar comments and false claims.
The average Twitter user also faces hacking risks to personal accounts. A recent Twitter invasion by experienced hackers resulted in the possible discovery of up to 250,000 usernames, email addresses and passwords through the service. Although this represents a small portion of the Twitter user-base, the incident led the service to pursue security improvements for log-in using two-factor authentication.
These events may appear relatively innocent, even occasionally light-hearted, in posted content, but any type of hacking can pose a significant risk to victims. Hackers could potentially post personal photographs, unflattering content, financial data, contact information, and otherwise falsified material. Even when tweets contain no factual information, re-tweets, and posts of material on other social media sites can spread like wild fire and limit users in their efforts to remove any unwanted content.
Fortunately, celebrities and large corporations have the resources to face the issue of Twitter attacks head-on. Supermodel Miranda Kerr joined the list of victims to fight back against her attackers by reporting her Twitter breach to authorities earlier this month. In addressing the cybercrime directly, Kerr also helped publicize the serious and criminal nature of such acts. Twitter has taken these matters seriously. By notifying law enforcement and Twitter support agents about hacking events, any individual user may also help prevent future crimes.
While cybercrime units work to protect Internet users against the newest hacking threats, follow the steps below to help guard your Twitter account from invasion:
- Avoid sharing passwords and immediately log out of Twitter after use
- Access Twitter using secure Internet connections
- Quickly follow Twitter safety recommendations when notified of a potential hacking to any personal account
- Review the consumer security guidelines and report policy violations to Twitter by following the link http://support.twitter.com/groups/33-report-a-violation#
Twitter may be in the hackers' bullseye for now, but we can help reduce these threats by owning our security, instead of sitting around and hoping you don't have to deal with a fiasco like Miranda Kerr or Burger King. You never know when a hacker might try to make your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account the next target.
Follow Hemanshu Nigam on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hemanshunigam