It is an unfortunate fact of digital life today that it is pretty easy for a sophisticated hacker to take control of your Twitter or Facebook accounts. It is for this reason that I have written so much about the dangers of having these accounts hacked. You can go to the archives of Scamicide to read about these in past Scams of the day. Despite the fact that Twitter has, as described in an earlier Scam of the day, tried to take increased security measures by permitting you to do a double authentication system, few people are taking advantage of this increased precaution. You can find instructions as to how to better protect yourself on Twitter in my Scam of the day for June 10, 2013. Apparently the President of the United States or his electronic security advisors have not been reading Scamicide because earlier this week both President Obama’s Twitter account and Facebook account were hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army, a group of hackers loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier this year this same group hacked a number of high profile websites including the New York Times and the Washington Post. In the latest hacking, the Syrian Electronic Army users were redirected to a pro-Assad video. The hackers also posted screenshots that appeared to be from the President’s campaign email account as well as a screenshot that appeared to be from a control panel for Obama fundraisers.
The biggest lesson to take from this latest hacking is that everyone is in jeopardy of being hacked. Often it is relatively simple flaws that are exploited by the hackers to get access to thee accounts. Often the problem has been passwords that are just too easy for an experienced hacker to figure out. Check out “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” for some thoughts on how to create a complex password. Generally you want something with capital letters and symbols. If your password is a word in the dictionary, it is not a safe one. But you also need something easy to remember so something like “Safety1st***” is a pretty secure password that is easy to remember and hard to crack. Also many hackings occur as a result of the victims clicking on infected links that contain malware that is automatically downloaded on to the victims computer and then is able to provide the hacker with all the information they need to hack your accounts. Never click on a link until you are absolutely sure that it is legitimate. And even if you click on a link in an email or text from a friend, you must be wary of either the friend’s email or smartphone being hacked and the message coming from someone else or your friend passing on tainted malware without their realizing it.