How Does a Twitter Newbie Know When They Are Hacked?

With all the general media coverage of the internet these days, even newbies to the world wide web know to be wary of viruses and hackers.  However, they don’t always know what to look out for or how to deal with the problem when it occurs.

Simple things like a dodgy email can be detected in many cases – but not all – by a blank subject heading and you should treat such emails with caution.  Whatever type of email you receive the best advice is DELETE the message if you are not sure of its origins and DO NOT CLICK ANY LINKS contained therein.  Clicking on such links will potentially open up a Pandora’s Box you wished you had never come across!

Social media platforms such as Twitter are not immune to such attacks.  It was a revelation to me to learn that a DM (direct message) from even a well-known friend and follower on my Twitter account could potentially be a hacker in disguise. Such dodgy DM messages will read something like:

“WOW how did you get so famous in this video” [with a URL] or perhaps as demonstrated in the first message shown in the screen shot on the right.

The best thing to do is to treat such messages as suspect and DELETE them immediately (and any other messages you have doubts about).  Responding to the person concerned on the open Twitter platform by tweeting them will just advertise the fact that they were caught out and that they had clicked the rogue link because they had received the same message you did. It is best to send your friend a DM to politely let them know they have been hacked.

Then as a precaution, change your account password straightaway and check that nothing has been altered in your account setup.  You should also establish that your account has not sent out any spam messages and delete any that may have been sent.

Some good practices to help keep you on the straight and narrow are:

  1. Ensure your passwords are changed regularly and don’t make them too easy – passwords should contain a mixture of letters (uppercase and lowercase is best) and numbers
  2. Create good Following habits – only Follow active accounts with full biographies – if there is no photo or info about the account holder avoid them.
  3. It is generally desirable that the number of accounts you Follow should fairly closely match the number of accounts that are Following you (accounts where the number of accounts followed is phenomenally higher than those followed are potentially bad news).  This is perhaps a difficult balance to strike for a newcomer to Twitter and I generally would not want to see anyone following more than a third above the number of accounts who are following them.

In the event that you become aware someone is Tweeting you with just a link (just like a dodgy email only containing a link) then you MUST NOT CLICK and DO NOT FOLLOW THEM. Accounts such as this will show a high number of Tweets but strangely have no Followers or even people they are Following. If you are in a situation such as this then please observe these instructions:

  1. Locate the Tweets’s profile.
  2. Click on the “gear” at the top right of the screen.  When the drop down menu appears choose “Report spam”.
  3. Next choose “Block” to ensure you cannot receive future Tweets from them.

In essence – if you have any doubts just DELETE and take the precautions advised above – better to be safe than sorry.  Happy Tweeting.

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