I’ve been made aware of some concerns among our Johnston Heights twitter users (many of you signed on during our JH Twitter Workshop). If you are following some of our JH staff, you may have been getting some unexpected messages. Worse still, you may have been sending out messages unawares. The first thing I recommend if you are having this trouble is to change your password. This will immediately fix any problems. I’ll explain why below.
Various people use twitter to advertise, either by posting tweets that endorse their product, or through spam, or both. Advertisers are legitimate, and their tweets are clearly labeled. However, a spammer may get access to the account of someone you know and send out a message under their name, usually with a worrying message (“I can’t believe what people are saying about you..”, “You’re in this video LOL”, “Didn’t you see them taping you…”) and such messages.
When you open the message or the tweet, there is a link. Given the worrying message, you click the link. A box or a new page with the twitter then opens, saying that you need to sign in to twitter again. THIS IS NOT FROM TWITTER. This is a fake page that links to an external site.
If you type in your information to this site it saves your twitter name and password to a list on the spammer’s computer. When you return you are shown advertising. Your information is then used by the spammer to send out messages (appearing to be from you) to people on your followers list. This is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as “getting your account hacked”. It’s actually a form of “phishing”, which is basically tricking people online into giving out their personal information.
To solve this problem, change your password, and it will stop.
Prevention – to avoid falling victim to these problems, try the following:
1. Consider the content of the message. Is it likely that that person would send you that message?
2. If you are asked to provide your username and password by a site you navigate to, don’t. Only type your password from the twitter.com page or from an official twitter app on mobile devices.
3. If you are not sure about a message, contact the person directly through email or in person.
Basically, it is the same as regular internet safety. Twitter is another way of posting information to the net, but it is formatted so that you can use it to connect to topics of interest. You still have to take the same care as you would when you open a regular email or message.