Researcher Claims Hacking U.S. President Twitter Account, Bitcoin Scam Overtakes Celebrity Accounts, and Twitter’s Massive Outage

How Academics Can Protect Their Twitter Accounts from Ongoing Hacks

By Caroline Campbell on Nov 16, 2020

Editor Note: Understanding the importance of this timely topic and to ensure that research is made available to the wider academic community, IGI Global has made a sample of related articles and chapters complimentary to access. View the end of this article to freely access this critical research.


Following up on the story on how high-profile individuals had their Twitter accounts hacked by a 17-year-old, according to a Popular Science article, “a Dutch security researcher claimed that he hacked President Trump’s Twitter account by using the password ‘maga2020!’” This claim showcases the vulnerability of many Twitter accounts that can be subjected to hacking and, even with educated users, social media accounts can easily be overtaken by cybercriminals. 

With this in mind, it is important for Twitter and social media users to understand the vulnerability of their accounts, as a hack can lead to identity and monetary theft, increased malicious phishing scams, and information and privacy violations. The aforementioned Popular Science article outlines ways users can protect their accounts in the age of increasing cybersecurity threats. These include:

  1. Set Up Two-Factor Authentication: This authentication will add your cell phone to your account, and it will text you a code to enter into the platform. This provides an “extra layer” of security between you and a hacker.

  1. Be Careful on What You Share and Send Over Direct Message: Messages on social media are not fully encrypted and can be easily intercepted so do not share sensitive information. Also, be wary of individuals requesting personal information or offering special offers over direct messages, and do not click on links from individuals you do not directly follow or know.

  1. Use a Password Manager: Each platform should have unique, complex passwords. You should not use one password for every account, as if someone gains access to this password, they can access all of your other accounts. To manage and track these passwords you can easily use a password manager, which will autofill passwords to your accounts and create long, complex passwords.

  1. Update Your Application and Operating System: Social media platforms continually provide the latest cybersecurity protection through their updates to the operating system. Make sure you keep your computer and phone updated.

  1. Watch for Weird Behavior: If you follow someone or get odd links from your friends that are not related to what they normally post or share, do not click on it, as their accounts could have been compromised.

These are just a few ways to make your account more secure from cyberattacks on social media. However, more threats are facing social media users and to more deeply understand these trends, Prof. Loo Seng Neo, from Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore outlines how criminals and violent extremists are harnessing these platforms in his article “Leveraging on Digital Footprints to Identify Potential Security Threats: Insights From the Behavioural Sciences Perspective” from Encyclopedia of Criminal Activities and the Deep Web (IGI Global). View the full article below:

Encyclopedia of Criminal Activities and the Deep Web
Copyright: 2020 | Pages: 1,162 | ISBN: 9781522597155 | EISBN: 9781522597162

This publication is a three-volume set offers strategies for the prediction and prevention of online criminal activity and examine methods for safeguarding internet users and their data from being tracked or stalked...Learn More.

The growing pervasiveness of the internet has revolutionised how individuals communicate and interact with one another. Despite being an effective channel for communication, it has also been exploited by individuals with malicious intent – such as criminals, violent extremists – for the purposes of fundraising, recruitment, propaganda creation and dissemination, sharing of vital information, data mining, etc. With the ease of accessibility and cloak of anonymity, individuals with malicious intent have reorganised their operations online to exist and operate in social environments that may not agree with their activities.

Violent extremists of all affiliations have exploited this technological advancement to transform the way they operate on a historically unprecedented scale. As Weimann (2004) posited, “Islamists, Marxists, nationalists and separatists, racists and anarchists all find the internet alluring” (p. 3). The internet and the opportunity it offers, allow violent extremists to expand the functionalities of their propaganda efforts beyond that the boundaries of the traditional, mainstream media (Europol, 2014). Violent extremists are no longer dependent on traditional media outlets to disseminate their propaganda. For example, it offers the opportunity for violent extremists such as Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to shape their audience worldviews. Before al-Zarqawi began his online propaganda campaign, it is essential to note that he would have to kill large numbers of people in order to grab the attention of supporters and media (Conway, 2007). However, through the online disseminations of video-taped beheadings of foreign hostages such as Nicholas Berg, al-Zarwawi was able to achieve greater impact and media publicity albeit using fewer resources. The internet has provided him with a readymade audience to exert his influence and presence. The use of the internet by individuals with malicious intent such as violent extremists therefore demands the attention of law enforcement agencies across the world.

In fact, the continuous advancement in information and communications technology can be envisioned to have a dramatic impact on the way such persons of interest may operate. Some recent examples include the online expression of hate during the 2018 Sri Lanka Kandy Riots (Gan, Neo, Chin, & Khader, 2018); acts of insider threats such as WikiLeaks data breach by Bradley Manning (Savage, 2013); online recruitment of members by violent extremist groups (Neo, Dillon, & Khader, 2017); ransomware attacks like ‘WannaCry’ (Tan & Wang, 2017); spread of fake news during the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election (Chen, Tan, Goh, Ong, & Khader, 2018); online circulation of upskirting photos (Luo & Wang, 2018); acts of cyberattacks (Dillon, 2016); and use of spear phishing to gain illegal access to computer networks (Vishwanath, 2016).

As the world witnesses an upward trend of such crime and security concerns in the online sphere, it places additional ‘responsibility’ on intelligence and law enforcement agencies to respond with the appropriate technological interventions (Abdul Rahman, 2019). Because the internet has played an imperative role in the way malicious activities are being conducted, these security agencies are therefore compelled to transform the way they identify potential persons-of-interest, collect usable intelligence, and conduct threat assessments.

In that case, how can individuals with malicious intent be identified in advance? How are they using the internet and social media to further their nefarious deeds? These questions can be addressed by examining how open-source digital footprints (i.e., one’s online behaviours on social media and internet) should be harnessed to better identify and assess potential security threats. It is within these digital footprints where a potential perpetrator’s intention and warning signs may manifest (Augenstein, 2017; Neo et al., 2017), which in turn can be utilised to assess the threat they pose. This chapter will discuss how digital footprints can be leveraged to identify potential security threats, particularly for crime and security issues that will result in negative repercussion at the national level, such as acts of violent extremism and hate crimes.

Interested in Reading the Rest of the Chapter? Access the Full Article Through IGI Global’s InfoSci-Demo Account, here.

Understanding the need for research around this topic, this research is featured in the publication Encyclopedia of Criminal Activities and the Deep Web (IGI Global). This title is a three-volume set that includes comprehensive articles covering multidisciplinary research and expert insights provided by hundreds of leading researchers from 30 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Finland, South Korea, Malaysia, and more. This comprehensive encyclopedia provides the most diverse findings and new methodologies for monitoring and regulating the use of online tools as well as hidden areas of the internet, including the deep and dark web. Highlighting a wide range of topics such as cyberbullying, online hate speech, and hacktivism, this book will offer strategies for the prediction and prevention of online criminal activity and examine methods for safeguarding internet users and their data from being tracked or stalked.

It is currently available in electronic format (EISBN: 9781522597162) through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore at a 50% discount and is available in print format. Additionally, to ensure that the research community can easily and affordably access this content, this publication and all IGI Global titles are available on the individual article and chapter level (pay-per-view) for US$ 37.50 through IGI Global's InfoSci-Ondemand. Recommend this publication and view all of the chapters featured in this title on the book webpage here. Additionally, this research and IGI Global’s full list of related titles is featured in the InfoSci-Books database. Request a free trial or recommend the InfoSci-Books database to your library to have access to this critical research.

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Profs. Ismini Vasileiou (University of Plymouth, UK) and Steven Furnell (University of Plymouth, UK)
Copyright: 2019 | Pages: 306 | ISBN: 9781522578475 | EISBN: 9781522578482

This title explores frameworks and models for teaching cybersecurity literacy in order to deliver effective training and compliance to organizational staff so that they have a clear understanding of what security education is, the elements required to achieve it, and the means by which to link it to the wider goal of good security behavior. Split across four thematic sections (considering the needs of users, organizations, academia, and the profession, respectively), the chapters will collectively identify and address the multiple perspectives from which action is required. This book is ideally designed for IT consultants and specialist staff including chief information security officers, managers, trainers, and organizations.

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This title is a collection of innovative research on the modern methods of crime and misconduct within cyber space. It presents novel solutions to securing and preserving digital information through practical examples and case studies. While highlighting topics including virus detection, surveillance technology, and social networks, this book is ideally designed for cybersecurity professionals, researchers, developers, practitioners, programmers, computer scientists, academicians, security analysts, educators, and students seeking up-to-date research on advanced approaches and developments in cyber security and information protection.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.

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