Oops, it's happened again. The giant social media company Twitter announced last week that it was investigating the possibility of a large-scale hack of its password database. In an effort to protect user information, they sent e-mail to thousands of users who might have been affected, along with automatically resetting their passwords.
Password hacks aren't new. It seems that every month or two, a different social network reports having been hacked. And the damage that can be done is immense. The low level of damage might be rogue Tweets; on the higher end of damage, think of the worth of your online reputation, not to mention the hassle and time cost of having to repair the damage. And let's not get into the financial cost – especially if you happen to use the same combination of login credentials on multiple social media networks.
How can you protect yourself against social media password hacking?
Social Media Security Tips: 5 Steps to a Secure Password
#1 – Create a strong password: Recognizable words are not strong passwords. The name of your child, dog, or favorite hobby is not a strong password. The name of your child and the year he or she was born isn't a strong password. (Do you get what I'm trying to say here?) Strong passwords include a variety of kinds of characters including upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. They also are longer than 5 or 6 characters – 10 is a good start.
#2 – Experts repeat the following social media security tips: Use a different password for every login. Remembering that many passwords is difficult, I know. Password management services can be a useful tool to help with remembering that many sets of login credentials.
Whether you use a password manager or not, here's why using different passwords is essential. If one password is hacked using different login credentials ensures that your other social media logins remain secure. And no matter what – do NOT use the same password for your financial institutions as you do for your social media accounts.
#3 – Be wary of links and odd Tweets, even from friends. The best social media security tips are sometimes your own instincts. Go with your gut – if you receive a Tweet or other message that seems out of character for a friend or just doesn't sound like something he or she would say, send a message on a different platform or device and verify that he or she sent it. Many a person has been taken in by a phishing scam sent from a friend's hacked account – and clicked the link even though something didn't "feel right."
#4 – Change your password regularly. Along with social media security tips about using a different password with each login, this can seem like quite the burden. Again – a password manager might be a useful tool for you to help make sure you haven't duplicated passwords across platforms or used the same one recently prior to changing.
#5 – Review your third-party apps regularly. If you're like me, you probably use a few different sites to help manage your activity on Twitter. When you authorize those third party apps to manage your account, you're essentially giving up control of your account to others. To review your list of authorized apps (and revoke access of any you no longer need), go to "Apps" in your "Account Settings" menu and click on "Revoke Access" next to the particular service you no longer need.
These social media security tips for protecting your password on social media will help ensure you're not a victim of the next password hack that's sure to come.
Do you have any other tips for ensuring password security online? Leave a comment below; I'd love to know.