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How to avoid getting your Twitter account hacked

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‚All upcoming Guns N’ Roses dates are officially canceled. Please contact your place of purchase for any refunds.‚ No Guns N’ Roses fan ever wants to see this text – especially when it’s published on Axl Rose’s official Twitter account, it’s a guaranteed recipe for disaster. This is not the first time a famous Twitter account has been hacked, and will most likely not be the last.

The social networking phenomena has only but grown over the last few years, and continues to be a mainstream form of communication ‚ whether for personal or business purposes. In fact, in January 2010, it was reported that social networking site Twitter reached 75 million users ‚ making it a perfect site for cyber criminal activities!

Stefan Tanase, Senior SecurityResearcher, Kaspersky Lab EEMEA, Global Research and Analysis Team says, ‚Barack Obama, Britney Spears, British Petroleum and the New York Times are just a few big names/brands that have gone through the painful process of Twitter accounts being hacked. With such growth and interest among Internet users, it is no wonder that such sites are becoming favourable targets among hackers! And this trend will only continue to grow into 2011. So, whether you manage an official Twitter account or a personal one, you should know how Twitter accounts get hacked so that you can effectively protect yourself.‚

Here are some helpful hints:

· Weak passwords РDo not use short, trivial passwords. Think of something unique. While this may seem obvious, this is the first mistake many Twitter users make.

· Phishing pages -If they cannot guess the password, cyber criminals will try to make you give it to them, without you even realising it. Keep your eyes wide open for e-mails or tweets asking you to reset your password, especially if you have not requested it.

¬∑ Shortened links‚be careful what links you click on while using Twitter. URL shortening services such as bit.ly are doing a great job masking the final destination of your click. You can unwillingly land on a server which is hosting phishing sites or pages distributing malware.

Cybercriminals have made Twitterone of their favourite phishing targets, where we are seeing a trend where they will send @messages to users that look like they contain information of interest or come from a username that is only slightly different from someone that you are following on the site. In fact, in September this year, Twitter had to contend with a worm that used an attack called “cross site request forgery”” to post salacious messages and malicious links on victims’ accounts. The worm first appeared over a weekend, posting two tweets in short succession to victims’ Twitter accounts. The first message made explosive claims about goats and the Twitterer’s sexual preferences, while the second simply read “”WTF?”” and included a link. Clicking on that link made the reader a victim, too, pushing the same sequence of tweets out through their Twitter account.

As cybercrime growsand sites such as Twitter increasingly become targets, it is important for PC and Internet users to not only take note of how hackers are using such sites, but to also keep all applications updated ‚from operating systems, to anti-virus solutions and even browser plug-ins – in other words ‚ everything! You can be using the latest version of Google Chrome, but you’ll still get infected if your Windows security updates are disabled. Fully effective security means several layers of defence, where you can’t break any ring in the chain.

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