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Has your social media account been hacked?

By: Michael Power

If you’re using social media, someone has probably tried to hack your account.

College President Kent MacDonald was recently a victim of one of these schemes when his Twitter account was compromised not once, but twice.

The hack in question sent a direct message to all of MacDonald’s followers directing them to a website. The message that I received on Oct. 30 was “Hey, someone is spreading terrible rumors about you…” with a link to a website that appears to be the Twitter login screen, but is in fact hosted by www.tvivtter.com a Twitter look-a-like site. If you enter your Twitter username and password, the website gains access to your Twitter account and then uses your account to send out more direct messages.

“I got sent the link from my son, Adam, who is away at school,” said MacDonald.

“It was from a family member, someone I trust, so I probably wasn’t as vigilant. It happened very quickly.”

After the first hack occurred, he changed his Twitter password using his iPhone, but not long after, he decided it would be best to do it from his laptop. At the same moment as he was doing so, he received an email from what looked like Twitter. He reset his password using the email link and his account was compromised again.

“That was incredibly frustrating,” said MacDonald.

The college does not have a defined social media policy for staff at the moment and when asked whether it was time for the college to institute such a policy, MacDonald said that he’s looked at what other institutions of higher learning have done, and he doesn’t think that it is necessary.

“Containing and constraining never works,” said MacDonald.

MacDonald added that the college’s existing policies, like the one concerning harassment, extend to social media as well.

MacDonald sees social media, and Twitter in particular, as an important way to connect with the college community.

“Twitter provides a medium to talk about higher education,” said MacDonald on Nov. 16 from California. MacDonald was attending part of a conference about ensuring college success in difficult economic times.

“As president I think [part of] my role is to celebrate the accomplishments of college faculty, staff and students in an efficient way,” said MacDonald.

Students and staff need to be aware of the potential digital threats that are ever-present in the digital age.

“The Internet as a whole poses a number of threats, and social media is merely another channel that can be compromised,” said Liz Babiak, the college’s social media community officer. “Just as your credit card or banking information can be compromised, your social media accounts are susceptible too.”

It is unclear if this particular hack goes after your other personal information but Babiak said, “I think we sometimes feel more violated if our social media accounts are threatened because they’re extensions of our very personal, social identities. It’s always unsettling when we feel our reputation is on the line.”

The Algonquin Times is a newspaper produced by journalism students for the Algonquin College community.

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