Twitter has added two-step verification to increase its security after all the recent hacks into high profile media accounts, but you should go sign up for it right this minute — because everyone's vulnerable to password attacks these days. Or maybe not right this minute, since there are some reports that Twitter is a little overwhelmed and others have reported the two steps aren't showing up for everyone. But at some point in the very near future, you get on that. Here's why, even if the new cellphone hiccup seems cumbersome.
Despite all the negativity surrounding the announcement — such as complaints that most people won't use it, and that major companies can't really take advantage of the system — this is a big, important step in the right direction for Internet security. Pretty much all of the hackers and security experts we've ever talked to keep insisting that the extra layer of password protection, by way of cellphones, may not be perfect but that it make it a lot harder for unwanted snoopers to get into accounts. And maybe your Twitter account doesn't sound that important, compared to say, your bank account, or your Gmail, but it's likely linked to those things and can act as a gateway to a life of hacked horrors. So, go do it.
Head to your account settings page and check the box next to Account Security that says you want to require a verification code when you sign-in. It will ask for a secure email address and a telephone number for which to send the verification code. You'll get a text almost immediately. Enter the code. Once Twitter finishes with the setup, every time you re-login, you'll have to go through that process, with a new verification code sent to your phone. And, sure, it's a more annoying process than, say, Google's, which trusts certain computers and browsers, but if you're still logged in to Twitter, it won't ask for the re-verification. Think about it: How often do you really find yourself logging back in? Exactly. Now go do verify.
The problem for large organizations, from the media to marketing and beyond, remains that more than one person (with more than one cellphone) tends to run a big Twitter account. However, there is a solution: Google Voice. These companies can make the default Twitter verification number a Google Voice number, which can then forward to multiple phone numbers. Again, it's a big hassle, but for a large group with something to lose in a Twitter hack, it's probably worth taking the extra few seconds to set it up.
Other than that, Twitter has an authorization tool for "other apps," meaning if you use Tweetdeck or Twitter for iPhone, you can generate a special password so that you don't have to sign-in with the two-step verification every time. A lot of social media professionals probably use services like this most of the time anyway, so with this feature most of them won't have to deal with phone numbers all the time.
And that's it. With those very easy steps you have made your account so much more secure. It's not a miracle cure for all Internet ails, but it's a lot better than the very-easy-to-break-into system Twitter had going for it before.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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