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A compromised Twitter account: regaining

What is a compromised account, and how would you know?

If you notice that you have apparently been sending out tweets that you were not aware of, or followers start to tell you that you've been sending them Direct Messages that you didn't send, your account has almost certainly been compromised.

A third party application will have got access to the account and is tweeting and sending out DMs on your behalf. Very often such messages are designed to entice someone to follow a link back to the malicious application so that their account becomes compromised as well, or it might link to a sex site or some other site that you'd really rather not be associated with!

How did my account become compromised?

Almost certainly because you followed a link from someone that you trusted yourself. That's why these things are so annoying, and why they can spread across Twitter so quickly - you trust the people you follow, and your followers trust you. In all probability therefore you clicked on a link that you'd been sent. This might have taken you to another page, that looked exactly like the Twitter login page, and you may have shrugged your shoulders and logged in again. However, this was NOT Twitter - it was a page set up by the creator of the malicious application, and it will now have captured your details.

You may then find that you get routed back to Twitter, leaving you wondering what the message was all about, or it might take you to a boring page which you will then leave. By then however, the damage is done.

Help! My account is compromised - what do I do?

The good news is that you can regain control over your account quickly. Make sure that you log into your account - I would go to the address bar in the browser and type it in by hand, (or follow this link to Twitter) and log yourself in. Then go to your Settings page (top right hand corner), and click on Password. Change your password, verify it, and confirm the change. Second, click on Connections. This will take you to a list of third party applications that you have allowed to access your Twitter account. Run your eye down the list, and make sure you recognise them all. If you don't, hold your mouse cursor over the title, and check the site that it will take you to. If you still don't recognise the application, click on 'Revoke Access'. This will tell Twitter to stop allowing the resource to use your information. Don't worry if you've made a mistake - you can always return to the application website in the future and allow access again.

Congratulations - you now control your Twitter account again. But remember - never trust anyone on Twitter, even close friends! If you've been sent a DM with a link in it that you weren't expecting, ask them what it is. If you see a link in a Tweet that you don't expect, or which is out of character, check before clicking on it.

Here's a short 2 minute screencast to show you the steps I mentioned above.
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