Posted April 30, 2013 8:04 am by with 2 comments

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imagessources-unreliableTwitter has taken a bit of a reputation ding after the hijacking of the AP Twitter account last week. Financial markets dipped and now federal attention is being given to the activities to see who profited from this event.

The result has been the promise, or the rumor, of a two step authentication process. Uhhh, those are nice words but until it’s in place and works it means absolutely nothing. Now to add to the uncertainty that surrounds the security of a Twitter account and, as a result, the reliability of the service in ‘reporting’ the news (God help us if Twitter is actually seen as a reliable breaking news source ever but it seems inevitable) is the following memo sent to journalists trying to help them protect their Twitter accounts.

BuzzFeed provided the contents of the memo and here it is.

Please help us keep your accounts secure. There have been several recent incidents of high-profile news and media Twitter handles being compromised. We believe that these attacks will continue, and that news and media organizations will continue to be high value targets to hackers.

What to be aware of:

These incidents appear to be spear phishing attacks that target your
corporate email. Promoting individual awareness of these attacks
within your organization and following the security guidelines below
is vital to preventing abuse of your Twitter accounts.

Take these steps right now:

Change your Twitter account passwords. Never send passwords via
e-mail, even internally. Ensure that passwords are strong- at least 20
characters long. Use either randomly-generated passwords (like “LauH6maicaza1Neez3zi”) or a random string of words (like “hewn cloths titles yachts refine”).

Keep your email accounts secure. Twitter uses email for password
resets and official communication. If your email provider supports
two-factor authentication, enable it. Change your e-mail passwords,
and use a password different from your Twitter account password.
Review your authorized applications. Log in to Twitter and review the
applications authorized to access your accounts. If you don’t
recognize any of the applications, contact us immediately by emailing

Help us protect you. We’re working to make sure we have the most
updated information on our partners’ accounts. Please send us a
complete list of all accounts affiliated with your organization, so
that we can help keep them protected.

Build a plan. Create a formal incident response plan. If you suspect
your organization is being targeted by a phishing campaign or has been
compromised by a phishing attack, enact the plan.

Contact us immediately at with the word “Hacking” in the subject. Include copies of suspected phishing emails.

If you lose access to an account, file a Support ticket and email the ticket number to

Moving Forward:

Review our security guidelines to help make sure your accounts are as
secure as possible.

Talk with your security team about ensuring that your corporate email system is as safe as possible. A third-party provider that allows for two-factor authentication might be a safer solution.

Strong security practices will reduce your vulnerability to phishing.

Consider the following suggestions:

Designate one computer to use for Twitter. This helps keep your Twitter password from being spread around. Don’t use this computer to read email or surf the web, to reduce the chances of malware infection.

Minimize the number of people that have access. Even if you use a third-party platform to avoid sharing the actual Twitter account password, each of these people is a possible avenue for phishing or other compromise.

Check for signs of compromise. Checking your email address and authorized apps weekly or monthly can help detect unauthorized access and address the problem before access is abused.

Double-check the email address associated with your Twitter accounts:

Review the apps authorized to access your accounts:

Change your password regularly. Changing your Twitter password quarterly or yearly can reset the clock if a password has leaked. Using a Password Manager integrated into your browser can help prevent successful phishing attacks.

Third-party solutions such as 1Password or LastPass, as well as the browser’s built-in password manager, will only auto-fill passwords on the correct website. If the password manager does not auto-fill, this might indicate a phishing attempt.

Password managers make it much easier to use a very strong password. Very difficult passwords will discourage memorization, which will greatly reduce the chances of being phished.

Be certain to set a master password, since otherwise passwords may be stored unprotected.

Don’t hesitate to email us if you need assistance.

Doesn’t exactly instill confidence does it? How much concern should there be? Let us count the CYA’s.

  1. We believe that the attacks will continue. (Uhh, great)
  2. Change your Twitter account passwords. (Insightful!)
  3. Keep your email accounts secure. (Wow, thanks! Hadn’t thought of that one!)
  4. Help us protect you. (Because we obviously can’t stop anything right now)
  5. Build a plan. (Because we can at least then say you didn’t when this inevitably happens again).

……..and the band plays on. Twitter is not secure. Twitter is not terribly reliable for correct information. Despite that, everyone turns to Twitter for ‘news’. You think you’re screwed if your account is compromised think about everyone else who hasn’t considered any of these issues ever and believes just about everything that is tweeted. After all, it’s on the Internet so it must be true, right? Oh boy.

  • That should sufficiently cover their bases, don’t you think? What they really need to do is to send out a mass email reminding people not to believe everything they read on Twitter.

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