Twitter security rose to the forefront of national discussion last week after the company suggested all users change their current passwords due to a bug that exposed them in plain text in an internal database.
Coming right on the heels of the massive Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, Twitter’s security vulnerability is the latest in a series of issues that have recently plagued popular user services. (App Taskrabbit also alerted users earlier this month that it is investigating and dealing with a security breach.)
As recent events continue to show, having an account with virtually any online platform carries security risk. Some users are choosing to eschew social media as a surefire mode of protection. But others want or need to stay connected for the benefits Twitter (and other sites) can bring, such as professional networking opportunities, an easy, large-scale personal platform, and connectedness to online communities.
For those that do wish to continue using Twitter despite potential safety concerns, there are certain steps you can take to bolster your protection.
Choose A Unique Password
Twitter gave users this advice earlier this week, and it’s also always at the top of any of our security guides. It’s vital to use a unique, never-repeated password for each of your online accounts.
While it’s obviously easier on the memory to use one password across the board, it also elevates your vulnerability. If any of your sites are hacked — which recent headlines have shown can’t be all that unlikely — then someone could potentially gain access to any other account that uses the same password.
It’s easier to recover from a breach if you only need to check for vulnerabilities and change your password for one account as opposed to all of them.
[More of a Facebook user? We’ve got tips for that, too.]
Enable Two-Step Verification
You should also take advantage of any enhanced login protocols. Twitter gives you the option to use two-step verification. This adds a second layer to your login process — after you enter your password, you’ll be sent a code via SMS you must type in before gaining entry to the account.
To set up the feature, head to your settings Account page and scroll down to the Security section. The first item in the box allows you to adjust verification settings.
Opt In To Password Reset Verification
In that same security box, you’ll have the option to enable another security protocol: password reset verification. If you opt in to this setting, you’ll have to provide certain contact information anytime you need to reset your password.
Don’t Tweet Your Location
Twitter gives users the option to attach location information to tweets. If you’re concerned about sharing data or information on the internet, you’ll want to steer clear of this feature. You can also disable it, and remove location information attached to previous tweets.
To do so, head to settings and click down to the Privacy and Safety tab. You’ll see a box next to the item: Tweet with a location. Make sure this is unchecked. To alter previous tweets, scroll down and hit the button “Delete Location Information.”
Also in the Privacy and Safety tab, you can adjust your discoverability settings. To increase account privacy, you can disable features that allow people to find your account by your linked email or phone number. Scroll down to Discoverability, and uncheck the boxes next to each option.
Consider Protected Tweets
If you’d like to limit who has access to your Tweets, you can adjust your settings from Public to Protected. When you’ve enabled the protected mode, your feed is only available to your followers, who you must approve.
To adjust this, navigate again to the Privacy Safety tab. Check the box next to the top item, “Protect your Tweets.”
Adjust Personalization And Data Settings
You can also adjust preferences related to how Twitter can track and share your data.
Click Edit next to Personalization and Data settings under the Privacy and Safety tab. You’ll be taken to a new page where you can disable any or all personalization and data features.
Be Cautious About Third Parties
Twitter recommends users be cautious of phishing attempts from masked external contacts, as well as what third parties you connect with using your Twitter information. We’d suggest limiting those connections, if not canceling them all entirely.