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5 Tips for a More Secure Twitter Account

Last night, a lively #SMManners discussion on Twitter about security prompted me to chime in with a couple of tips on how you can help secure your Twitter account. This article lists and describes those same security tips.

Secure Your Connection

The first tip involves changing a security setting at Twitter. To do so, sign-in to your Twitter account using a web browser. Once you’re signed-in you’ll notice a small version of your avatar in the upper-right corner of the Twitter web page. Next to that will be your Twitter name and a small downward pointing arrow. Click in that area to access the pulldown menu. From that menu, choose ‘Settings’. The default first tab is labeled ‘Account’. If that tab is not selected, select it. Scroll down on that web page until you see ‘HTTPS Only’ click the checkbox to select ‘Always use HTTPS’ and then click the Save button.

With that selection made, Twitter will always force an HTTPS (secure) connection over an HTTP (plain text) connection. As I understand it, what this means is that all of the information sent between your computer/tablet/smart phone and Twitter will be encrypted. That will, of course, make it harder for a hacker to get your login information when you connect to Twitter via public WiFi or with your smart phone.

Use Different Passwords

I know it can be a pain to remember passwords (I’ll give you a couple of tips for this later), but it’s becoming increasingly important to do so especially in light of the many system break-ins that have taken place (Sony, for example), as well as some of the Twitter account invasions that have happened recently.

Anywhere you use the same email address and password to login puts ALL of the accounts with the same information at risk if even one is compromised.

Change Passwords When Necessary

If something happens that makes you feel as though something is not right, for example you seem to have unfollowed people, or people seem to be getting Direct Messages (DMs) you never sent, you might want to change your password. At the same time you might want to review what applications/websites you have given Twitter permissions and privileges to.

Revoke Application Privileges

Depending on your Twitter and your web browsing habits, you may be quite surprised to see how many applications have access to your Twitter information. To see which applications you’ve given Twitter privileges to go into your Twitter settings, as described above, and choose the Applications tab.

To the right of each application listed you’ll see a button labeled Revoke Access. Click that button for any applications you’re unsure of. Be most wary of newer additions to the list.

Choose Strong Passwords

I know this is a tough one, too, but it plays a very important role in helping secure your Twitter account, as well as any other online accounts you use.

Strong passwords contain lowercase and uppercase letters along with some numbers. Naturally, coming up with a list of random numbers and letters is fairly easy, but remembering them can be difficult. One trick that I use is to use the first letter of each word in a sentence I can remember. For example: The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein would be TDISbRAH if you added a number (say the current year or a favorite number) you’d have a great password that you could remember fairly easily.

Try to choose passwords that are at least 8 characters in length, though longer is better. If you can I’d advise using 10-12 character passwords. Adding the current year to the password in the previous paragraph would yield TDISbRAH2011, a 12 character password that I could easily remember but that would be difficult to crack.

You can also get software that will encrypt your password list and give you the option of only needing to remember its password. There are many options out there. Do a Google search for “password keepers” and you’ll find links to tons of them.

I hope these five tips will give you a head start on securing your Twitter account, along with any of your other online accounts.

If you have any Twitter security tips yourself, please share them by commenting below.
article by: Michael Clark for www.LondonsWebDesign.com
created on: August 10, 2011

About the Author, Michael Clark

After writing, teaching and lecturing about the Internet and the Web for over 15 years, Michael recently decided to get back to his software development roots.

Michael's company, www.LondonsWebDesign.com, designs and develops web sites for small and medium-sized businesses in and around the London, Ontario, area.

When he's not helping his clients 'get the Web,' Michael is hard at work developing a mini-CMS that can be easily customized for each of his client's websites. You can 'follow' Michael on Twitter as @LondonWebDev. Just look for the icon of the guy tugging on his ear :).

There are 2 comments for this article

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On August 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm  CathyWebSavvyPR wrote...

Thanks for creating this post, you responded to a need during a social media chat #SMManners, and put some useful info here. I know it can be hard for people to commit to creating and remembering multiple passwords for every site they are members of but...

I'd like to put in a plea for at VERY MINIMUM making your E-mail password and any Banking passwords very Different from your social media passwords.

That way if someone does break into an account, either with an easily-guessed password, or via a hacking hole created by a third-party game or application that works along with your social media account - it will be harder the nefarious person to cause you further problems. I know at least three people to whom something like this has happened.

If they break into one social media account, and your email is in your background profile settings (even if it is available to the public) - and if your email password is the same as your social media password - they can then mess with a lot more of your information. If they change your password on that social site, the confirmation for that is most often sent to your email address - which they can now also get into (and change that password too). If your banking password is the same - they can scan your email for message from your bank and try and break in there.

It may seem far fetched to you, but in this case - I'd say better safe than sorry.

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On August 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm  Michael wrote...

Hi Cathy.

Thank you for the comments. I whole-heartedly agree. People can be too lax about their own security. At a minimum, they really do need to protect their email account(s) and any banking account(s). If someone gets into your email, they can easily pretend to be you and get many more of your passwords.


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