The Term “Social Security” Takes On A New Meaning…

posted by: 4O1! on September 8, 2011

What’s this? Someone’s peeking over President Roosevelt’s shoulder during the signing of the Social Security Act of 1935?! I hope he didn’t glean any sensitive information!

As some of you may have seen, our Twitter account was hacked a few nights ago. You may be familiar with the twang of panic I felt when I realized what had happened, worrying about the people and businesses that follow our company; had they been caught up in a phishing scheme brought about by a mis-click or a weak password on my end? Fortunately, it was brought to my attention almost as soon as it happened, and I was able to log in and change the password, then spend some time issuing personal messages of warning and apology to those people that I could confirm were sent direct messages on the site.

In light of this recent hack, I decided to spend some extra time researching this recent security threat and general protective factors so I could share this information with you. My hope is that we will all be on the lookout for suspicious web activity and protect ourselves and each other  by sharing this information with as many people as possible.

This attack was disguised as a direct message from one of your Twitter contacts, promising a “hilarious” photo of you, suggesting that you click a link to see it. The link directs you to what looks like the Twitter home page, prompting the user to share login information, allowing the hacker access to your login and the ability to try this login combo on other accounts that you may hold. Known as phishing, you can read more about this particular threat in this article by Sophos.

A few suggestions/reminders for staying safe online:

  1. Check your address bar when you click on a link: In our case, the link connected to a replica of the Twitter homepage, but on closer inspection the address had different characters, a dead giveaway that the page is inauthentic.
  2. If you are already logged in to your social network, you shouldn’t be prompted to share your login information again.
  3. Change your web logins regularly… and this goes for all sites you visit. You should be sure to have different logins for each site because once someone gets ahold of one login, they are likely to try using that info to access your other accounts.If you have trouble remembering complex passwords, you can make an encrypted document of passwords, and protect it on your computer. There are free programs that can help you do this, TrueCrypt is one that works on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
  4. Password protect your computers in case of theft.
  5. If you suspect that you have been phished, you should access all your accounts and change the passwords, and contact any institutions such as banks or medical establishments should you have online accounts. You should also let your friends know, in case they received an email or message during the time your account was compromised.

Of course, it’s really important for anyone that shares any personal information on the internet to stay in touch with current technology events and security risk factors. My favorite places to go for security information are cnetSophos, and Mashable. Yes, some of these companies sell antivirus software, but they also perform  extensive industry research regularly and share their data freely alongside tips to help keep your information safe.

Protecting yourself on the internet is as important as locking your front door when you leave your house. While the information in this post may not be new, I hope it serves as a reminder of the value of your personal information. I know I’ll be much more vigilant with my passwords in the future!

Stay safe my friends!

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