If you use, or are thinking of joining the estimated 32 million people who are already using the micro-blogging service Twitter, then here are 5 security tips for you consider.
1. Consider *everything* you post, at least three times, before you post it. There is currently no effective means of deleting or recalling public tweets.
2. Never share personal information (email address, phone numbers, address etc), ever. Your tweets are public and are indexed by search engines and linked to you as an individual. Use the Direct Message funtion to share this stuff *if you really need to* and delete the Direct Message once it is no longer needed (in case your account is breached). Deleting sent Direct Messages also removes them from the recipients inbox but it will not remove it from a recipient’s 3rd party client application or mobile device if they have it linked.
3. If using SMS on your mobile device to Tweet make sure of the context of your message, if you SMS respond to a private Direct Message, it will not be sent privately but as a public tweet.
4. Use complex passwords, change them regularly, *never*use any service that requires you surrender your username and password. Only use 3rd party services that support Open Authentication (OAuth). If you do use one of the many third-party services that hook into Twitter then make sure the login address on that third-party site, the that shows up in the web browser, is one that will keep your password safe. Look for http://twitter.com/oauth at the beginning of the address, and if it’s not there, don’t give up your details.
5. Use a Twitter client, something like TweetDeck, or use a browser extension like LongURL. These allow you to see the true destination of shortened URLs before you visit them. Shortened or obfuscated URLs are the prime method for distributed spam and malware over Twitter. If you’re not sure, don’t click. Check back with the sender if they meant to send it, you never know you could be doing them a favour, letting them know their account has been hijacked.
My final piece of advice… Use it! Twitter is fun, informative and engaging, you can follow me (if you can stand it) at http://www.twitter.com/rik_ferguson