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Twitter Behind Other Social Networks

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When it comes to helping users to make their accounts secure, Twitter has fallen behind other social networking and online services, according to security experts. Twitter came under the spotlight on Monday, when the FOX News Politics account was hacked and false tweets reporting the death of President Barack Obama were posted to the account.

The Secret Service is now investigating the hack. FOX News says that it is unsure how the hackers managed to gain access to the account, but has complained that it took Twitter more than 5 hours to restore FOX’s access to the account. This security breach has led to security experts suggesting that the attack may not have happened if Twitter had two-factor authentication, like Facebook (with Login Approvals) and Google have.

In two-factor authentication systems, you have to enter a second temporary code — which is sent to your mobile device in most cases – as well as your regular password so that you can log in to your account. According to Reuters, security experts say that Twitter could soon come under pressure from influential tweeters (for instance, politicans, corporations and news outlets) to introduce two-factor authentication.

“They won’t have a choice. I think if they want to stay viable they’ll have to,” said Murray Jennex, who teaches information security at San Diego State University.

Jennex also warned that Twitter could be inviting more security breaches if it did not add two-factor authentication and that further high-profile attacks would harm Twitter’s reputation. While Twitter offers users the option to log in to the service using https, the secure protocol is not enabled by default, and you either have to type “https://twitter.com manually into your Web broswer or change your settings on Twitter.

Chris Palmer, the technology director for the privacy-promoting Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that https should be enabled as standard on Twitter as many users will not know about this option or give too much thought about using it. Google, on the other hand, has https as standard for many of its services.

While Twitter spokeswoman Lynn Fox declined to say whether the company would add two-factor authentication, she said that users are responsible for the security of their own passwords:We take security very seriously and we’re always looking for ways to help users make their accounts more secure . . . We can’t anticipate compromises that occur offsite. That’s one of the reasons we very clearly recommend to users that they be extremely careful with the security of their passwords.

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