Twitter Goes Gaga: 4 Tips to Protect Your Twitter and Facebook Accounts From Hackers

PHOTO: Lady Gaga attends The Grammy Nominations Concert Live! held at the Nokia Theatre, Nov. 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, Calif.
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Were you one of the 17 million Lady Gaga Twitter followers, or 45 million Facebook fans, who got the message yesterday saying Gaga would give you a free iPad 2?

Given that they would cost more than $20 billion, those iPads would be quite a generous Christmas gift. Unfortunately for all the monsters out there -- Gaga's affectionate name for her fans -- the tweets and updates were false.


Hemu Nigam
Hemu Nigam

Lady Gaga's accounts were hacked. All anyone who clicked on the links in the tweets got -- there were at least 7,000 people, according to TechCrunch -- was a virus that could do major damage to their computers.

Lady Gaga isn't the only celebrity to have her account hacked recently. The long list ranges from Bristol Palin to Selena Gomez, from Paul Pierce to Marc Jacobs. The same free-iPad hack reportedly hit Nelly Furtado's Twitter account soon after it hit Gaga's.

And hackers aren't only stalking celebrities' accounts -- they're going for yours too. Twitter says it's growing by 460,000 users a day. Just as in the real world, criminals go where the potential victims are.

So, how do you make sure this doesn't happen to your Twitter account, Facebook account or even your bank account? Here are some tips.

Do the password shuffle. Create a different password for everything that is important online! You already do this in the real world by having different keys for all important areas in your real life: the house, the office, the safe deposit box -- so do the same thing online. Read more on passwords here.

Get the virus vaccine. Make sure that your security software is up to date. That way, just in case you get caught up in the Lady Gaga frenzy, the virus could be blocked by your anti-virus software before it does any damage.

Always update security settings in your account. Users need to remember to exercise the same caution with their Twitter accounts that they would with their email or banking websites.

Suspect everyone. If a friend, relative or acquaintance tweets something that is out of character, assume that it isn't from them. If your friend Suzy sends a link to an offer that sounds too good to be true, go with your gut and don't click on it. Then, do your friend Suzy a favor and let her know her account might have been hacked and that she should change her password.

Millions love Twitter -- which means hackers do too. Don't let the vultures feed on your feed, and know how to separate the good tweet from the bad.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Read more about Hemanshu Nigam here.

Learn more about cyber safety on "20/20's" "We Find Them" page.

 
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