Beware: Good Twitter handles are being stolen and sold for gold


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// October 2nd, 2012 // Hacking and Security

Twitter bird

How important is a strong password on Twitter? Depends on how much you value your Twitter handle. Notwithstanding rogue Trojans swiping Twitter passwords, Twitter’s security is a bit weak in some places and this allows hackers to crack the Twitter account password easier. Whereas many websites lock an account after multiple missed passwords, Twitter only locks the account if multiple password misses occur from the same IP address. If a hacker can spoof their IP address, they can hack away at your Twitter password all day without repercussions. They do this because good Twitter handles can be sold for a pretty penny, up to $1,000 in some cases. Consider them the “vanity plates” of the digital age.

Take the case of @blanket. @blanket was an early adapter of Twitter and hence, was able to choose a nice Twitter handle. Two days ago, he received an email from Twitter saying that his password had changed. He was stilled logged in on his phone and panicked when he saw his tweets and follow counts reset to zero. Realizing he could log in using his email, he retrieved his password and logged in to find his username changed to “FuckMyAssHoleLO”. By chasing tweets, he found that @blanket and other Twitter handles were being “pimped” at a site called ForumKorner by some asswipe named “Korea”.  With some legwork, @blanket’s handle was returned to its original owner.

A similar problem occurred to @animal.  @animal found that she could no longer log into her website using her Twitter username.  She logged in with her email address to find that her Twitter handle had been changed to @animaaal2 and @animal was now an account “that had a picture of an egg, no name and no postings”.  The hacker who was squatting her handle even taunted her with this tweet:

image

Repeated contacts with Twitter support in an effort to reclaim her handle went unanswered and unresolved.  As one user said:

“We are at the mercy of social media giants who are not accountable to anyone. You can put years into the development of an online presence and Linkedin, Facebook, Google or Twitter can screw it up in a minute and you have no rights and no one to appeal to but them. You’re at the mercy of their whims.  They don’t even take phone calls. Call Twitter and see what happens. The receptionist acts like you’ve committed a crime.”

@animal’s friends and fellow Twitter Followers jumped in to help, starting a campaign to get her Twitter handle back.  Eventually her account was returned to her but not before she expended much effort and many hours campaigning for the return of her username.

Sources: Storify, Recruiting Animal




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