Twitter is a popular social media platform for quickly reaching a broad audience. However, several high profile users have fallen victim to Twitter hacks such as Kanye West, Elon Musk, and Joe Biden. According to de Volkskrant, Donald Trump is the latest celebrity/politician to have his Twitter hacked. If it can happen to them, it could probably happen to you. Spy-Fy has tips for keeping your Twitter account safe and secure.
So, was Trump’s Twitter hacked?
In the case of Donald Trump, a Dutch ethical hacker named Victor Gevers, was responsible for the Twitter hack. De Volkskrant reports that screenshots were shared with them as evidence of the alleged hack. These screenshots showed that Gevers could have posted Tweets, accessed direct messages, and edited profile information on Trump’s Twitter account.
What was Trump’s password? Gevers claims that Trump used “maga2020!”. For those unfamiliar with the acronym, “maga” refers to “Make America Great Again,” the Trump campaign slogan. Upon successfully hacking into Trump’s Twitter, Gevers said he attempted to contact Trump, Twitter, Trump’s campaign, Trump’s family, the CIA, the White House, and the FBI to warn them about the security flaw.
Twitter denies Trump Twitter hack claims.
On the other hand, Twitter denies that Trump’s account was hacked, according to the Guardian. A Twitter spokesperson quoted in the Guardian said, “We’ve seen no evidence to corroborate this claim, including from the article published in the Netherlands today. We proactively implemented account security measures for a designated group of high-profile, election-related Twitter accounts in the United States, including federal branches of government”.
Therefore, it seems that there are two sides to this story, and it is unclear whether there was indeed a Trump Twitter hack. Regardless, there are several privacy and security lessons you can learn from this news story.
How to avoid a Twitter hack
Twitter offers a number of suggestions to increase your Twitter account security. If a hacker did indeed guess Trump’s password and gain access to his account, then this could likely have been prevented with a stronger password or two-factor authentication. Twitter has the following recommendations for creating a strong password:
- Use this password on Twitter only; don’t repeat a password in use somewhere else
- Long passwords are stronger (10 characters or more)
- Mix it up in terms of letters, symbols, and upper/lowercase
- Refrain from using personal info or common words
- Use two-factor authentication
So, where did Trump (allegedly) go wrong with his Twitter account security?
If the hack claim is true, then Trump’s password does not follow these recommendations. First, it was only 9 characters in length. Secondly, it did not use a variation of uppercase and lowercase letters. Third, it contains personal info/common words. Make America Great Again is a well-known phrase associated with the Trump campaign. Using the year of the next presidential election is also common knowledge. All of these factors make “maga2020!” a weak password. Furthermore, there was no two-factor authentication in use. The account would have been harder to hack with two-factor authentication in place, even if the password was guessed.
Two-factor authentication options on Twitter
Two-factor authentication adds extra security to an account. Essentially, two-factor authentication requires an extra element in order to gain account access. This added factor can take a number of different forms. Twitter has three two-factor authentication options:
- Text messages
- Authentication app
- Security key
If you decide to use text messages as the second factor, then every time you attempt to log in a text message will be sent to your phone with a six-digit code. Alternatively, you could use an authentication app like Google Authenticator which will send you a code. Lastly, you could use a physical security key. For more information on how to set up two-factor authentication on Twitter, check out Twitter’s article “How to use Two-factor authentication“.
What should you do if your Twitter is hacked or compromised?
In the event of a Twitter hack, don’t panic. First, how can you tell if your account has been compromised? According to Twitter’s guide, look for:
- Tweets posted from your account that you didn’t write
- Twitter notifications regarding a suspicious login or login attempt
- DMs that you didn’t write
- Account information changes
- Your password stops working
Although these signs might sound obvious, they are important clues. If you suspect your account is compromised, take action. Attempt to change the password before your account is out of your control. Next, make sure that you have logged out of the Twitter app as well. Then, check to see if there are any suspicious third-party applications that have been connected to your Twitter account. Be sure to update your password for third-party apps that are connected to your Twitter. Lastly, remove any hacker activity (Tweets, direct messages, etc).
Was your Twitter hacked?
If you can no longer request a new password and can’t re-secure your account, contact Twitter by making a support request. Another scenario could be that you can no longer gain access to the email account that you used to make your Twitter account. You should also make a support request in this case.
Although it isn’t clear if Trump’s Twitter was hacked, by increasing your account security, you can help keep your account from being compromised. In conclusion, why not learn from the mistakes presented in this example? Create a strong password and set up two-factor authentication.