Security breaches are an unfortunate part of living a digital lifestyle. We depend on our online accounts for almost everything, and when the security of our online accounts gets breached, “almost everything” we care about gets placed at-risk.
On that note, Twitter’s databases were recently hacked, revealing the passwords of 250,000 users. That’s a quarter of a million, which is still a tiny percentage of the total number of Twitter users but a large number nonetheless.
Twitter claims the attack came from “extremely sophisticated” hackers. The hackers worked over a number of days in order to steal the 250,000 user names and passwords, and Twitter wasn’t alerted to the breach until they started to notice abnormal usage patterns.
Twitter takes security very seriously – just as seriously as you might expect for one of the world’s largest social networks. As a result, all of the stolen passwords were encrypted, which means that the hackers could probably not have attacked your account even if they had its username.
The second bit of good news is that Twitter immediately reset the passwords for all affected accounts and emailed the users of accounts notifying them of the problem. That was nice of Twitter, and more importantly, it means your account is (most likely) safe.
Twitter is working with federal law enforcement officials to find out who was accountable for the attacks. Major organizations like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were also attacked earlier this week by what is believed to be a sophisticated group of hackers, so Twitter may not be alone.
If you want to make sure your Twitter account (or any account for that matter) is hacked at any point in the future, take the following precautions:
-Use different passwords for every account. That way if Twitter leaks your password, they didn’t also leak your bank account password, Facebook, etc.
-Use a password that is at least 10 characters in length
-Use special characters like !$$%#^ as well as a mix of upper and lower case characters.
If you can do that, you will significantly minimize your risk of account loss and identity theft.