May 23, 2013
Want To Secure Your Tweet? Do The Twitter Two-Step
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Twitter hacks have topped the news so far in 2013, as major corporations and news sources have repeatedly had their accounts compromised by either juvenile ne´er-do-wells or the Syrian Electronic Army.To help stave off these kinds of attacks, Twitter has finally introduced two-step verification, an extra security measure used to keep unwanted “guests” out of private accounts. Like other two-step authentication measures, Twitter sends users an SMS message to verify their identity, meaning users will have to hand over their cell phone numbers to use the feature. Though this security measure makes Twitter users jump through an extra hoop to verify their identity when they sign in to Twitter.com, it comes as a much-needed preventative measure to ensure the account is only used by those authorized to do so.
“Every day, a growing number of people log in to Twitter. Usually these login attempts come from the genuine account owners, but we occasionally hear from people whose accounts have been compromised by email phishing schemes or a breach of password data elsewhere on the web,” writes Jimio of the Twitter product security team in a Wednesday blog post.
Jimio´s use of the word “occasional” may be something of a euphemist, as Twitter hacks have been occurring with frightening regularity this year.
When two-step is turned on, Twitter will send a verification code to your cell phone each time you access Twitter.com or give an app permission to use your account. Turning this feature on is simple enough, though there are some aspects that users need to be aware of.
First, sign in to your account and head to the settings panel, indicated by the gear icon. From there, find the ℠Account Security´ section and the option to require a verification code when you sign in.
Before you can turn on this feature, you´ll have to give Twitter your phone number. If you´ve already done this, you´ll be able to simply check the box. If you haven´t, simply click the “add a phone” link and type in your phone number and you´ll be on your way to safer tweeting.
Pro tip: Once you give Twitter your number, it´ll ask you to send the word “Go” to 40404 via SMS. What Twitter doesn´t tell you is that this also turns on all sorts of text notifications by default. You´ll find this out soon enough if, like this writer, you receive numerous replies throughout the day. If you´re giving Twitter your phone number for the first time, it´s best to head straight to the mobile section of your settings and change these notifications.
For instance, options like “let others find me by my number” and text notifications for follows, replies and re-tweets are all checked by default. Once this is done, head back to the account panel, tick the “require a verification code when I sign in” and await your confirmation text message.
As this system is built on an SMS system, Twitter says only those customers who can receive text messages are eligible for this feature.
Though two-step adds an additional hurdle to be jumped when signing in, it´s likely a worthwhile measure to prevent your account from being commandeered by unwanted cyber pranksters — or worse.