A number of websites and national papers this week covered the news that Taylor Swift’s Twitter account had been hacked.
The culprits were able to post several messages to the singer’s 51 million followers, before the account was locked and the tweets quickly deleted.
Cases of hackers targeting celebrities often garner a mischievous mention in the showbiz pages, but security isn’t just something for best-selling singers to consider. Any business which uses social media should take time to ensure they have put all possible safeguards in place.
Now, it is true that in the event your account is compromised there are policies in place which will enable you to regain control – even if the culprit has changed the password.
But by following a few simple steps, companies can significantly reduce the risk of this happening in the first place; avoiding the potential embarrassment of a few rogue posts and an anxious couple of hours spent trying to sort out the problem.
The first thing to take a look at is your password. At one point the most popular choice on Twitter was ‘123456’, with many other users favouring equally well-worn options like ‘qwerty’ or even just ‘password’.
Eventually the site banned these and dozens of other common choices on the grounds that they were easy prey for hackers. Now users are encouraged to pick a unique mix of numbers and letters and change the password at least every 60 days. It is also ill-advised to use the same password across multiple sites.
Other tips for reducing the risk of a security breach include revoking access from any third party apps – which may store information – and remembering to sign out of your browser when you’ve finished using a website.
It is also important not to follow links from people you don’t know and to ignore suspicious-looking direct messages. Anything sent with words to the effect of “someone is saying nasty things about you” is almost certainly a phishing scam.