Twitter, like any other social network is quite addictive. It gives its users all in one place experience. Being an RSS, allowing DMs and there’s something new every other second for it users to savour on. That’s the users. But for cyber criminals it is just another target to be exploited.

Which is why AMLAW present to you today a quick safety guide to protecting your sensitive information, original content and your social life whenever you are tweeting, retweeting or posting hashtag trend on Twitter.

Be a little more skeptical

Use could make a Twitter in a mere 2 minutes. But a Twitter can be used to impersonate anyone. Alive or dead. Celebrities have a few perks. Their accounts are ”verified” by Twitter. But even if that’s the case, no one can really verify if an account is really being opened and used by the account holder. Hackers won’t get in the hassle of making a separate account to impersonate someone. instead they would just take over an account and can trick others into clicking or downloading buggy links and softwares.

Carefully go through any accounts you are planning to follow. Make sure you come across a trustworthy image. Note in case of repetitive tweets, usually self-serving scams, Compare the “followers” and “following”. If all of these tick, then and only then hit the follow button.

Always keep your guard on,

Like has been said earlier, you can’t really verify who uses an account and if it has been taken over by someone with malicious intentions. Hackers use “hijacked” accounts to promote both spam and scam. They may tweet links that lead to sites containing malware and may steal your sensitive information i.e. your personal or banking details.

Like any other popular websites, all types of worms, viruses, phishers, botnets have found their ways into Twitter too. Hackers and other cybercriminals pu in a lot of effort into it. So eventually any suspicious activities that popped into your emails account will show up on your Twitter account too, one way or another.

The people at Twitter however, are working hard to eliminate or reduce such bugs. The site now identifies malicious links and has launched a “URL shortening” service to track and protect its users. A recent study concluded that Twitter links are as safe as the Google search results’ links.

You should still should look out of any links you receive in a DM. Even if you follow someone, not necessarily every they send is secure or true. If you necessarily have to click on a link, run it via a secure browsing software first.

Nothing on the Internet is fully secure. But a little common sense and a few precautions can do the trick for you. Twitter will be as safe as any other social network you know of.

Login only via the Twitter’s own Sign-In page

One of the factors that aided Twitter’s popularity was its openness to outsiders. Before 2010, Twitter could be logged into from a third-party website. But it was figured that it was a risky practice and made users habitual of giving out or entering their information anywhere on the web, thereby increasing the risk of being phished.

While Twitter still offers a lot more fun, it doesn’t allow third-party logins anymore. Which brings us to the conclusion that the only login Twitter users can use to login is “twitter.com”. For connecting your account to other apps, Twitter has this process called “Oauth” that directly connects your account to the app. This way Twitter and only Twitter is responsible for protecting your account. But you will have to do your part first.

Use a very strong  Password

password

Once your ID or password is stolen,your are completely vulnerable. So guard your ID/password very well.

Most importantly, use different passwords for different accounts altogether. Make sure your passwords aren’t made up of public information i.e. your pet’s name or your date of birth. It may seem overwhelming but there are different softwares now available to help you make and remember different, strong passwords.

Don’t let your browser remember your passwords. Change your password every few months. And once you stop using a certain account, don’t leave it hanging just like that. Delete it immediately.

Keep an updated Security Suite

A necessity before signing up for Twitter or any other social network for that matter, install a good, up-to-date security suite. Make sure all of your applications and softwares including Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, Real Player etc are fully secure. You can check this via different virus-detecting systems available online.

Twitter is more or less like your email accounts. Any bugs or viruses that popped in your email will pop on Twitter too. So think twice before signing up, following or forwarding anything.

Use verified third-party softwares if you have to use any at all. Never trust websites that want to install a software on your PC or offers to run a scan through your computer for detecting malware. If a pop-up appears repeatedly or you notice a program self-installed on your PC, run it immediately on an Online Spam scanner.

Monitor your Account

Many users don’t realize that once they allow an app to access their account, it remains open until and unless they shut them off formally. This practice can lead to potential security threats especially if it’s an app you don’t exactly “trust”. The owner of the app may even be able to access and read your private Direct Messages.

And that is why you should carry out a regular audit of your account. By going to “Setting” and then “Connections”, you can revoke any permissions to apps you have connected your account to. Even if you find out that you actually use that app somehow, you can always invoke access.

Avoid trouble by searching for an app and thoroughly checking it before you allow it to access your account.

Banks don’t “tweet” or “Direct Message”

Your bank won’t “mention” you or Direct Message you if they want to contact you. But someone impersonating your bank or credit card company might, Verify such queries by contacting the organization itself. Don’t fall prey to “gain followers fast” or any other “financial help” scams.

Although they seem obvious, scams still exist because they work. Even smartest of the people can be tricked into it. Make sure you are not one of them.

Protect your “Privacy”

privacy

Unlike Facebook, Twitter is public space. A small number of users protect their tweets but most of them leave it out in the open for public. Although Twitter’s search goes back only a few days, but Topsy has records  of all the tweets ever posted since May 2008. Moreover, Google and Bing too are now tracking tweets. Therefore you can assume that  anything you ever posted still exists somewhere even if you deleted it right away.

Before you go ahead posting a tweet, ask yourself if you would say it out loud in a room full of strangers.

Don’t reveal any personal information including your email address.  Abstain from publically posting a vacation you are going to have or any other details of your schedule. Add location to your tweets only  if you are okay with people finding you. If you feel like tweeting about a place you are visiting or going to visit, do it just before you are leaving. Otherwise you might gain a prospective robber on your way or a burglar in your house.

Tweeting about a celebrity dress malfunction, or someone’s comments or criticising someone’s opinion may seem like a fun idea. But how would your employer think about them, being public, while you apply for your job?

Be careful NOT to tweet anything when you are not in the best of the spirits. Before posting any while you are in a bad mood, sit down, take a deep breathe and recall that although it seems like your own private party, it isn’t.