Improve Twitter passwords, experts warn after minister’s account hacked

Cybersecurity experts said that hacking of prominent Twitter accounts does not mean the social media giant has major internal security issues, but urged users to improve their account security.

The Twitter account of Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris was the latest to be hacked as a series of offensive messages were sent before it was deleted. It came just days after Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s Twitter profile also fell victim to hackers.

In a series of high-profile hacking incidents, Piers Morgan’s account has also been compromised in recent weeks.

Concerns have been raised about the strength and responsiveness of Twitter’s security systems after Elon Musk took over the social media platform and nearly half of the company’s staff left amid a ‘chaotic’ staff restructuring.

There are also reports that millions of user email addresses were stolen from the platform as part of a data leak and made available to hackers on online forums.

However, cybersecurity experts have suggested that the biggest direct security threat to users is not actually any internal problem in the company, but rather they do not take their personal account security seriously.

Research has shown that many internet users reuse passwords or use simple and easy-to-guess phrases for login details.

KnowBe4’s leading security awareness advocate, Jawad Malik, admitted that former Twitter security chief and whistleblower Peiter Zatko painted a “very ugly picture” of Twitter’s security checks in a statement last year – that is, a number of vulnerabilities have been discovered on the site. had claimed. – but argued that individual user security is the key issue.

“This does not mean that Twitter is much worse than many other social media or cloud providers. Only among the most visible. And that visibility is what puts a big target on its back,” he said.

“When we hear about Twitter accounts being hacked, it’s not necessarily because of some technical issues with the platform.

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Twitter account of Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris hacked (Niall Carson/PA)

“Rather, the most popular way is to phishing users, that is, by sending victims emails that appear to come from Twitter, asking them to provide details, including passwords – which results in their account being hacked.”

In response, Twitter encouraged its users to think more carefully about how they secure and use their accounts.

“All accounts, especially featured ones, should be mindful of what they write on Twitter, especially private DMs,” he said.

“They should use a unique and strong password and enable multi-factor authentication.

“In addition, access to third-party apps should be reviewed regularly and revoked when no longer needed.

“Finally, they should watch out for any communication that appears to come from Twitter and not click on links in emails, but instead go directly to Twitter and take any necessary action.”

CyberSmart’s CEO, Jamie Akhtar, said it was “important” to point out that Twitter is “overall a very secure platform” despite the recent account hacks and blatant data leaks.

“While the leak raises questions about how quickly Twitter is able to detect vulnerabilities, we think users can be pretty confident in their cybersecurity,” he said.

Twitter is a resource-rich business and has historically advanced cybersecurity.

“The fact that the leak coincided with the ownership chaos of the past few months on Twitter seems more like a coincidence or bad luck than a drop in security capacity.”

Responding to the hacking of his account, Northern Ireland Secretary, Mr. Heaton-Harris, said: “I’m afraid my Twitter account was hacked overnight and someone posted extremely unpleasant things on my account that I can only apologize for.”

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