How safe are the passwords for your social media accounts? This question was on many minds late last Friday when Twitter announced that it detected an attack on its tool and that up to 250,000 accounts could be compromised. I received an email notice from Twitter while I was out on a run, and as soon as I came home I logged in to Twitter through the website – not trusting to click on a link in an unexpected email for fear that it could be a phishing attack. Sure enough, my account was one of the lucky few, so I created a new password and moved on with life.
This seems like a minor inconvenience, a tiny blip in another week of communicating through online tools. And for me, it was a minor blip, because I was prepared.
What do you need to do to be prepared?
- Use unique passwords for each of your important social media accounts – if you use the same password for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other accounts, when your password may be compromised on one tool, it is compromised on all tools.
- Use strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed by anyone trying to access your account – strong passwords are usually eight or more characters long and they use a combination of upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and symbols.
- Regularly change your passwords – it is a good practice to change your password every few months to make it even less likely that someone could crack the password and get access to your accounts.
- Limit the number of outside tools that have access to your social media accounts
– you can limit your exposure and the chance that someone can get access to your password by limiting the number and types of add-on tools that you connect to your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Make it a regular practice to do a periodic review of the third-party tools connected to your accounts to ensure that you are only allowing key tools to maintain access to your login and password.
In the case of last week’s issue with Twitter, it isn’t clear if the reason those 250,000 accounts were compromised was due to poor passwords. Since one of my accounts was on the list, I would like to think that wasn’t the case.
Are your social media accounts and their passwords safe? If you rely on social media tools to tell your stories, this is a critical question. It’s up to you to ensure that the answer is yes.