Social media has been a hectic landscape as of late. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, all organizations that deal with sensitive user data have been much more careful than usual.
On Thursday, May 3, Twitter announced it had discovered a bug that stored passwords that unmasked all its 336 million accounts. As a precaution, Twitter suggests all users change their passwords.
The social network has made it very clear that this is not a data breach, but a precautionary step. Twitter says it has no reason to believe that anyone had access to the data, but suggests users change passwords as a precautionary measure. But what does this all mean?
How were the passwords revealed?
Twitter has an internal log that stores all account information, such as passwords and other sensitive user data. Passwords are hidden to the eye of the standard worker using a program that causes the password to be ‘masked’ behind random characters that amount to the same length as the user password.
For example, if your password was pass123!, the information could be displayed as a random selection of numbers, letters and characters such as [email protected] However, the bug would instead cause the password to plainly display as pass123!, presenting a security hazard.
So now what?
Since the passwords weren’t leaked, you could technically keep your password and be safe. However, in today’s world where there’s a new data breach every other day, we suggest you change your password for Twitter (or, we can handle for you!).
This is also a great time to upgrade your cybersecurity measures – is your Twitter password a standard password you use across other accounts? Whether it be social media or clouds with highly-sensitive data, you might want to rethink your strategy and dedicate time to fortifying your cyber barricades. Here’s a few suggestions to get your security measures into tip-top shape:
- Use as many different types of characters as possible. This means upper-case, lower-case, numbers and other symbols that the service will recognize. The more variance, the harder your password will be to crack.
- Use different passwords across accounts. This tip has been around for ages, but it’s especially true now. Having the same password across accounts is essentially an invitation for a hacker to take a dive into all of your platforms.
- Use a password manager. It’s hard to keep track of intricate passwords, especially those that are randomly generated. How many times have you had issues trying to input a WiFi password? This is why a password manager is so handy – it keeps track of all of your password data in one safe and secure place.
- Make use of two-step verification procedures. As hackings have become all too common, many service organizations have introduced the option of two-step verification for users. Two-step verification is much harder for hackers to crack – it requires human input of data that a machine can’t identify or work around. Twitter and other social media sites offer the option of two-step verification for sign-ins.
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Author: Louis Spanos