In the digital realm, where personal data and online interactions are increasingly valuable commodities, ensuring the security of your social media accounts has never been more crucial. Recently, Twitter (currently “X”) made a significant announcement that left many users pondering their online safety. Starting from March 20, 2023, the platform began charging users for SMS-based Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).
Users can only use SMS 2FA only if they are Twitter Blue Subscribers or a Premium Subscribers.
If they are a premium subscriber they can access SMS 2FA along with the following:
- Prioritized rankings in conversations and search
- See approximately twice as many posts between ads in your For You and Following timelines.
- Add bold and italic text in your posts
- Post longer videos and 1080p video uploads
- All the existing Premium features, including edit post, Bookmark Folders and early access to new features
This change has sparked concerns and raised questions about online security and Twitter’s motivations. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the reasons behind Twitter’s decision, how it may impact your online safety, and what steps you can take to protect your account effectively.
Why Twitter Started Charging for SMS 2FA
Twitter’s decision to charge for SMS-based 2FA stems from several factors:
- Cost Reduction: Managing the infrastructure for sending SMS messages to millions of users can be expensive. By charging for this service, Twitter aims to mitigate these costs.
- Encouraging Secure Alternatives: Twitter is aligning itself with best practices in online security. While SMS-based 2FA is more secure than not using 2FA at all, app-based authentication and security keys are even more robust options. Charging for SMS 2FA may incentivize users to adopt these safer alternatives.
- Protecting Against Abuse: By implementing a cost, Twitter hopes to deter bad actors from abusing SMS 2FA for malicious purposes, such as spamming or harassment.
Am I Safe?
Now, let’s address the question that many Twitter users might be asking themselves: “Am I safe?”
The short answer is that SMS-based 2FA, despite the charges, is still a reasonably secure method. However, it’s not the most secure option available. If you rely solely on SMS-based 2FA, you may still be vulnerable to determined hackers. Therefore, it’s essential to assess your level of security and consider whether you can enhance it further.
Fortunately, there are alternative methods available that allow you to secure your Twitter account without incurring any additional charges.
Switch to App-Based Authentication
App-based authentication is widely recognized as one of the most effective ways to secure your Twitter account. This method eliminates the need for SMS codes and provides a more secure way to verify your identity. Here’s how to set it up:
- Step 1: Go to Twitter Settings: Log in to your Twitter account and click on your profile picture in the top right corner. From the drop-down menu, select “Settings and Privacy.”
- Step 2: Access Two-Factor Authentication: In the Settings menu, select “Security and Account Access.” Under this section, click on “Two-Factor Authentication.”
- Step 3: Select Authentication App: Under the Two-Factor Authentication settings, select “Authentication App.”
- Step 4: Link Your App: Follow the on-screen instructions to link your preferred authentication app, such as Google Authenticator or Authy, to your Twitter account.
- Step 5: Generate and Enter Codes: Once linked, use the generated codes from the authentication app for 2FA instead of relying on SMS messages.
Use a Physical Security Key
Another robust option for enhancing your Twitter account’s security is to use a physical security key. This method offers strong protection against unauthorized access. Here’s how to enable it:
- Step 1: Access Twitter Settings: Log in to your Twitter account and go to “Settings and Privacy.”
- Step 2: Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Under “Security and Account Access,” select “Two-Factor Authentication.”
- Step 3: Choose Security Key: In the Two-Factor Authentication settings, choose “Security Key.”
- Step 4: Register Your Key: Follow the instructions to register your security key with your Twitter account.
Generate Backup Codes
While 2FA is crucial for security, it’s equally important to have backup options in case you lose access to your primary authentication method. Twitter allows you to generate backup codes, which you can use if you’re unable to access your app or security key. Follow these steps:
- Step 1: Go to Twitter Settings: Access your Twitter settings from your profile picture in the top right corner.
- Step 2: Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Under “Security and Account Access,” click on “Two-Factor Authentication.”
- Step 3: Generate Backup Codes: Click on “Backup Code” and follow the instructions to generate and securely store the backup codes in a safe place.
Additional Tips for Enhanced Security
Now that you’ve secured your Twitter account with 2FA, here are some additional tips to bolster your online security:
- Regularly Update Your Password: Ensure your Twitter password is strong and unique. Change it periodically to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.
- Monitor Account Activity: Keep an eye on your account’s activity. Twitter provides insights into recent logins and account changes, allowing you to spot any unusual behavior.
- Beware of Phishing Scams: Be cautious of suspicious links and emails. Avoid clicking on unknown links, and never share your login credentials.
- Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with Twitter’s security policies and announcements to remain vigilant against potential threats.
- Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity trends and best practices. Knowledge is your best defense against online threats.
Twitter’s decision to charge for SMS-based 2FA signifies a shift towards enhancing user security while also addressing cost concerns. While SMS-based 2FA is still a viable option, users are encouraged to explore more robust alternatives like app-based authentication and security keys to ensure their accounts remain secure. By staying informed, regularly updating passwords, and adopting these security measures, you can navigate the changing landscape of online security and enjoy a safer Twitter experience. Remember, your online safety is in your hands, so take action today to protect your Twitter account from potential threats.