Twitter Security and Safety
Twitter offers a space for connection, expression, and information sharing.
However, ensuring Twitter security and safety is crucial to avoid falling victim to a hack or a phishing scam that may temporarily or permanently compromise your account.
In this post, you will learn how to define a Twitter security risk acceptance level that matches the value of your Twitter account.
And the digital security measures you must take based on your risk acceptance level.
Twitter security is crucial, but it’s not the sole factor to bear in mind.
No matter how stringent our security measures are, a Twitter account remains vulnerable if the owner willingly discloses login credentials in a phishing scam, loses access to the 2FA method, or suffers a severe accident.
Therefore, you should strongly consider increasing your digital safety awareness and applying the necessary safety measures to keep your Twitter account safe.
Table of Contents
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Define Your Twitter Security Risk Acceptance Level
Before proceeding, it’s essential to evaluate your comfort with risk, considering:
– The type of assets accessible through your Twitter account.
– The value associated with those assets.
This assessment is crucial for determining the appropriate security measures for your Twitter account.
For instance, a medium-level risk acceptance might find an Authenticator app as a Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) method sufficient.
However, opting for a hardware token as a 2FA method would be a wiser choice for those with a low-level risk acceptance.
Understanding and aligning your risk acceptance level with the security measures needed will help ensure the safety of your Twitter account.
Think about how you use your Twitter account and the consequences if you lose access or the account is compromised due to a hack.
Twitter account used for communications:
While some people may send relatively unimportant tweets (low-value accounts), some other people use their tweeter accounts to send communications to their followers (medium or high-value accounts).
Losing access to a Twitter account can be a great inconvenience. Or, even worse, a compromised Twitter account can have serious implications if the hacker uses the access to send malicious links or phishing messages to the followers of the victim.
Define your Twitter security and safety risk acceptance level (high, medium, or low) by considering the impact of someone getting access to your email communications, including all your contacts and all the attachments sent and received from your account.
You may not be as famous as him, but take a minute and think about the consequences if your Twitter account is hacked and the hacker starts sending inappropriate messages to your followers.
Twitter account used for third-party application access:
Twitter accounts are not commonly used for accessing third-party applications.
There are some use cases but it is far more common to use some other methods like password, Google, Apple or Facebook login.
Define your Twitter security and safety risk acceptance level (high, medium, or low) by considering the impact if someone gets access to your Twitter account and finds out that it can be used to log into your TikTok account.
Twitter account used for digital media monetization:
A Twitter account can be monetized or used to generate sales leads:
– Subscriptions: Earn a living on X by letting anyone subscribe to your monthly content
– Ads revenue sharing: Earn income from the ads served in the replies to your posts.
Define your Twitter security and safety risk acceptance level (high, medium, or low) by considering the impact if someone gets access to your Twitter account and temporarily or permanently disrupts the income you generate through that account.
For example, consider Anna’s case:
– Anna has a Google account that, apart from sending and receiving emails with sensitive information, she uses to sign into several online platforms.
– She has a print-on-demand business that generates a steady income every month. Among her promotional channels, Twitter (X) is a crucial platform where she effectively generates sales leads for her venture.
– On Twitter (X), Anna maintains an extensive follower base, engaging with them regularly.
– Anna is aware that she over-relays on her Google account to access many third-party platforms that, one way or another, are linked to her print-on-demand business. Because of that, she takes security and safety very seriously, like using a security key such as 2FA to log in to her Twitter account.
Think about the consequences for Anna at the personal and business level if someone could hack into her Twitter account and create chaos.
A Strong and Unique Twitter Account Password
To Twitter, the users can log in using Google and Apple accounts. Or by entering the phone, email address, or username and providing the password in the next step.
If Google or Apple accounts are used to sign in, those accounts should have a strong and unique password.
If a phone, email address, or username is used, the Twitter password will be required in the next step. Which should be a strong password and not be reused from any other online account.
A Strong Twitter Account Password
It is common knowledge that it takes just a few seconds or minutes to crack a weak password.
But, be aware that many people are under the correct assumption that their passwords are strong, which does lead to accounts being hacked.
It would be best to learn how to create a strong password that can resist brute-force attacks for many years.
Strong and Unique Passwords
Of course, the strongest the password is, the more complex it is, and the more challenging it is to remember and type it when required by your Twitter account. Therefore, your password should match your risk tolerance level:
– Very weak password: Under 64 bits
– Weak password: 64-80 bits
– Moderately strong password: 80-112 bits
– Strong password: 112-128 bits
– Very strong password: Over 128 bits
A moderately strong password with 85 bits of entropy (password entropy calculator) contains the following:
– Lowercase Latin letters: 5
– Upper case Latin letters: 3
– Digits: 3
– Special characters: 2
A strong password with 117 bits of entropy contains the following:
– Lowercase Latin letters: 7
– Upper case Latin letters: 5
– Digits: 3
– Special characters: 3
A very strong password with 131 bits of entropy contains the following:
– Lowercase Latin letters: 2
– Upper case Latin letters: 6
– Digits: 9
– Special characters: 3
A Unique Twitter Account Password
You must be aware that there is a high probability that, sooner or later, some of your personal information (e.g., email address, password) will be exposed due to a data breach.
Once a data leak happens, malicious people will sell and re-sold your data to other evil people, and you will most likely be the target of a hack or spear phishing attack.
If you reuse one or two passwords for all your accounts, once they are leaked through a data breach, your account will be susceptible to being hacked or phished.
This is because of password dictionaries, which are lists of leaked passwords available online.
Using such lists is a dictionary attack, a hacker’s technique to break into your Twitter account before moving on to a brute-force attack.
If your digital security risk tolerance is medium or low, you should consider having (and maintaining) unique passwords for each of your digital accounts.
But if your digital account security risk is low, you may feel comfortable reusing several accounts’ passwords.
Your Twitter account maintenance plan should include periodic reviews of sensitive data leaks for low, medium, or high-risk tolerance. More information is below.
If you have decided to reuse passwords, an early threat identification will allow you to take steps to change the compromised password as soon as possible.
Password Backup Safe Storage
Because you follow the good practice of having strong and unique passwords for each of your accounts, you may need to take note of the passwords in case you forget one, including your Twitter account password.
And, of course, your password backup must be safely stored, away from anyone who will use them for their advantage. Which means everyone expects your most trusted family members.
Home Safe Box
If you don’t have or cannot have a home safe box, you may consider alternatives, like using an encryption technique to ensure that the data remains protected in case someone gets access to the written information.
Enhance Twitter Security With Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) should be a must-have security feature for every Twitter account because strong and unique passwords are not hackproof if the user lacks the knowledge and experience to prevent advanced hacks.
In the following sections, we briefly describe the 2FA methods that can be used to enhance Twitter security. Which are:
– Text message
– Authentication app
– Security Key
SMS (Text Message) Authentication
SMS (text message) is the weakest type of 2FA, but it is free and requires no specific software, additional hardware, or maintenance.
Unfortunately, 2FA is only available to Premium subscribers in Twitter text messages.
But the good news is that other, more secure 2FAs are available to anyone with a Twitter account.
SMS 2FA Advantages:
– Do not require additional software or hardware.
– Many services offer SMS 2FA, making it widely accessible to users.
SMS 2FA Disadvantages:
– No backup possibility, so if the SIM card is damaged or lost, it may take time to get a replacement.
– It is the weakest type of 2FA and is prone to SIM swap attacks.
SIM swaps are a system used by hackers and scammers to take over your SIM 2FA and break into your digital accounts. Mainly to get access to your financial assets.
SIM Swap Attack
Authenticator apps, like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator, are free to download, install and use.
They are usually installed on mobile devices, so most people can have this authentication method up and running without hassle.
When ‘Authentication app’ is chosen as a 2FA method, Twitter mentions the following compatible authenticator apps: Google Authenticator, Authy, Due Mobile, and 1Password.
Two-factor authentication apps can be a viable option for those people with medium risk tolerance levels.
Authenticator Apps Advantages:
– It is free
– It is a safer method than SMS authentication
– Authentication apps generate time-sensitive codes that are not easily intercepted.
– Authentication apps work even without an internet connection once set up.
– Creating a backup system for easy and fast recovery is possible if the mobile device is lost or damaged.
Authenticator Apps Disadvantages:
– It is not a hack-proof system and may not be able to protect the user from Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) type of attacks.
– There can be security concerns if the device where the authentication app is installed is lost or compromised.
Twitter 2FA Mobile Device Lost or Stolen
In our posts:
We referred to the steps Google or Microsoft advises taking if the device where the 2FA software is installed gets lost or stolen.
Regarding what 2FA authenticator method you choose, you must make sure you plan to recover from such eventualities quickly.
Security keys, also known as security keys, hardware keys, or hardware tokens, are physical devices that provide an additional layer of security for online accounts. They are used as a form of two-factor authentication (2FA).
Hardware keys are considered one of the safest 2FA methods for the following reasons:
– Phishing Resistance: Hardware keys resist phishing attacks because they rely on cryptographic challenges and responses that attackers cannot easily intercept or replicate.
– Physical Possession Requirement: An attacker would need physical possession of the hardware key to compromise the authentication, adding an extra layer of security compared to methods that rely solely on codes sent to a user’s mobile device.
– No Dependency on Mobile Networks: Unlike text messages or app-based authentication, hardware keys do not depend on mobile networks or internet connectivity, making them more reliable in various situations.
– Tamper-Resistant: Hardware keys are designed to be tamper-resistant, making it difficult for attackers to manipulate or clone the device.
– Simple and Convenient: They are user-friendly and often involve a simple action, such as plugging in the USB key or tapping it on a device.
Security Keys Advantages:
– The safest 2FA method
– Hardware keys are not tied to a specific device, reducing the risk of device-related compromises.
– Hardware keys provide the highest protection against phishing and other attacks.
Security Keys Disadvantages:
– Hardware keys must be purchased, and they can be costly
– It is highly advisable to purchase a spare hardware key, and that adds more cost
– Some services may not support hardware keys, limiting their universal application.
Before implementing Hardware tokens as 2FA, please ensure a disaster recovery plan.
Twitter Account Maintenance Plan
You may not need to have a Twitter Account Maintenance Plan.
But it is highly recommended to check the health of your Twitter account, even if it is only a couple of times per year.
Your Twitter Account Maintenance Plan should contain the following:
– A periodic review* to ensure that no foreign devices have been added to your account. Because this can be an indication of a security breach
– A periodic review* to review recent activity and flag any unfamiliar activity so you can quickly react in case of a potential security breach
– A periodic review* of third-party applications granted access to your account. Because any unfamiliar third-party application can be an attempt to access or monitor your Twitter account data.
Review Connected Accounts
‘Connected accounts’ refers to linked third-party social accounts connected to your Twitter account for various purposes.
While connecting accounts may not pose a direct security risk, it’s crucial to consider the implications of having a non-authorized or compromised account linked to your Twitter account.
Review Connected Apps
As described by Twitter in their ‘About third-party apps and login sessions‘ page:
‘Third-party apps are applications built on the X platform by external developers, and are not owned or operated by X. When you connect a third-party app to your X account, you are granting that app access to use your account. Depending on its permissions, an authorized app may be able to obtain information from and use your account in various ways, such as reading your posts, seeing who you follow, updating your profile, posting posts on your behalf, accessing your Direct Messages, or seeing your email address.’
‘You should be cautious before giving any third-party app access to your account. If you’re not comfortable with granting an app access to your account, simply click “cancel” on the authorization page to decline the app’s access. We also suggest you regularly review third-party apps which have access to use your account to confirm that you still want to give them access.’
As mentioned by Twitter, sessions are the devices you are using or that have used your X account. These are the sessions where your account is currently logged in.
If you don’t recognize a session, or if there are several sessions currently active, it may be that someone has access to your Twitter account, and you may want to take steps to revoke the access.
Like, for example, changing login credentials.
Review Account Access History
As a complement to the active sessions, the account access history can indicate if your account has been accessed by anyone else apart from you or any authorized person.
In the country or IP addresses are unfamiliar, you may want to take steps to revoke any potential unathorized access.
Review Logged-In Devices and Apps
Regularly reviewing connected devices and apps on your Twitter account is crucial to prevent unauthorized access, monitor for suspicious activity, and promptly address security breaches.
This practice ensures that only trusted devices and applications have ongoing access, enhancing overall account security.
Additionally, it facilitates a smoother account recovery process and aligns with best practices for maintaining online privacy.
Twitter Account Recovery Plan
A Twitter account recovery plan is essential for swiftly regaining access in situations like lost passwords or 2FA devices.
A well-prepared recovery plan ensures a timely resolution, preventing prolonged disruptions to account access.
Twitter Account Password Reset by Email
The Twitter page ‘How to reset a lost or forgotten password‘ lists the steps you need to take to reset your Twitter account by email.
Twitter account password reset by email is relatively straightforward, as long as you remember the email associated with the Twitter account.
Twitter Account Password Reset by Phone Number
The Twitter page ‘How to reset a lost or forgotten password‘ lists the steps you need to take to reset your Twitter account by text message.
Twitter account password reset by email is relatively straightforward if you take the time to add your phone number to your Twitter account.
Twitter Account Lost 2FA Recovery
If you cannot access your Twitter account because you lost access to the Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) method, you can request support from Twitter.
Once your request has been approved, the Twitter security team will turn off 2FA so you can log in to your account.
The Twitter security team recommends adding your preferred 2FA method again once you have successfully logged in to your Twitter account.
Twitter Account Hacked - What To Do Next
If your Twitter account has been hacked, the faster you act, the lesser the impact.
Scenario 1 : Victim Still Has Access to the Account
Immediate Password Change:
– Change your account password immediately to secure it from any ongoing unauthorized access.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
– Activate 2FA to add an extra layer of security, preventing unauthorized logins even if the password is compromised.
Review Account Activity:
– Regularly monitor your account activity for suspicious logins, unfamiliar devices, or activities.
Revoke Access to Suspicious Apps:
– Review and revoke access for any third-party apps or services connected to your account, especially those you don’t recognize.
Scenario 2 : Victim Does Not Access to the Account
– Initiate the account recovery process through the Twitter page ‘I am having problems with account access.’
– Follow the verification steps to confirm your identity. This may involve providing information associated with the account.
Change Password Upon Regaining Access:
– Once you regain access, immediately change your password to a strong and unique one to prevent further unauthorized activities.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication:
– Activate 2FA to secure your account and minimize the risk of future unauthorized logins.
Review and Secure Account:
– Conduct a thorough review of your account settings, including connected devices and third-party app access. Secure your account with updated information.
– Stay informed about Google’s security features, and educate yourself on best practices to prevent future security breaches.
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