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If the CEO of Twitter isn’t safe from hackers, who is?

Last Friday, hackers got into Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account. The hackers posted under his name a series of confusing and racist tweets. The incident came and went fairly quickly. But the way the group, Chuckle Squad, overtook the account is a lesson for us all.

Twitter blames Dorsey’s mobile provider for allowing hackers to compromise his cell number. Once the Chuckle Squad had control of the number, they were able to post under Dorsey’s name using Twitter’s own app, Cloudhopper. They didn’t even need his password. Once they established a link to his account it was as simple as texting 40404 to post tweets remotely. The technology has been around for a decade. Using it to embarrass someone is a newer phenomenon.

The faux Dorsey tweets claimed there was a bomb at Twitter HQ, used the N word and other unpalatable stuff. Twitter’s scrambling staff removed tweets within 10 minutes but the hack went on for 90. Chuckle Squad, whoever they are, have also hacked into C and D list celebrity accounts in recent years. Other hackers have also successfully used Twitter to embarrass people. I doubt I’m at risk for hacking unless someone really wants outtakes of cat photos and the nonsensical messages between my brother and me. But there are ways to reduce the risk.

  1. Review app permissions. Over the years I’ve given quick okays to all sorts of apps – from those that track “who unfollowed me” to games to what have you. I went through and got rid of them.
  2. Visit Twitter’s help center and make sure you know how you can be found and what data is searchable. For example, I allow people to search for me by email but not by phone number.
  3. You could convert your Twitter feed from open to protected. A protected account has a lock beside the name. Only approved followers can see tweets and retweets are not allowed. To me, this defeats the “social” part of social media, but I know people who do it for various reasons.

As Twitter’s co-founder’s experience proves, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be safe on social media. Keep it clean, play nicely and don’t get too famous!

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