My Twitter account was hacked last week, and I’m STILL dealing with the side-effects.
I don’t have any big secrets or even a lot of personal information on my Twitter account. I post so infrequently that I had a hard time remembering my user name when time came to secure my account. I am mostly a Twitter reader and occasionally offer up a “heart” to something I like.
I was hacked, nonetheless, and research turned up some interesting ideas as to why. Generally, according to the experts, people hack Twitter accounts to sell the information to others, with prices ranging from a few bucks to more than $400, depending on the account. The “why” is that it can be a springboard to other accounts, as people tend to reuse passwords across various platforms.
Then, there is the simple “throw the line out there” hacker who is just looking to fool one or two people for every hacked account he/she buys, making his investment worth it.
I am pretty sure my hacker was doing just that. From the information I received from those kind friends who got a “Follow” request from me and accepted it, the next thing “I” did was send a series of friendly private messages. “How are you?” “Are you doing OK during this pandemic time?”
From there, it got weird. Evidently, no matter what my friends answered, the next message (Poor spelling and grammar included) was, “That good. Stay safe and take good care of yourself. I guess you also heard from the UNEP?”
From here, “I” set out convincing my good friends that I am a working on behalf of the United Nations to help people get money to assist them through the pandemic. Evidently, “I” personally benefited from the UN’s great generosity, got the funds and quickly paid off my debts.
But Wait… as every TV come-on says… there’s more! “I” now want to share my good fortune with my Twitter friends!
I don’t think I will have to carry any guilt with me from this hack, as anyone on my fairly short list of Twitter followers are too smart to fall for this kind of scam. Many reached out to me to let me know I had been hacked or verify that I had. The good thing is I did get to talk to a couple of people I haven’t had a phone conversation with in a while. That was nice.
It was the ONLY nice thing about it, however. Since I am not that familiar with Twitter, it took me way too much time to even figure out how to get to my personal account information (don’t judge me) so I could change passwords, etc. Trying to get the information to Twitter that I had been hacked was a lesson in futility. They tell you how to “fix it” by making your account more secure, but they really don’t want to know about it.
I am so grateful to the friends who let me know and so sorry that any of my friends had to take even a minute to read those fake messages. I am happy none of you were fooled.
And, I am buoyed by the three or four of you who said, “We knew it wasn’t you. The grammar and spelling were terrible.”
I suspect they were just being kind. I think the working on behalf of the United Nations might have been a bigger tip-off.
Take a few minutes when you have them and change your passwords. And, as much of an annoyance as it is, if you haven’t moved to the two-step verification, do it. It could save you some hassle with the United Nations.
Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.