May 22, 2013 at 5:46 PM ET
Twitter has finally implemented a two-step authentication feature to keep its users' accounts more secure. Security experts, who have long questioned why the short-messaging service failed to offer such a security feature, can now breathe a bit more easily.
A blog post Wednesday by Jim O’Leary, a member of Twitter's product security team, explains that users will be asked to register a verified phone number and a confirmed email address. Once that's done, they will receive an SMS (text message)containing a six-digit code each time they loginto Twitter.com.
"In my opinion, this is overdue for Twitter, especially for verified accounts," Chester Wisniewski of the Internet security firm Sophos previously told NBC News. "If you're so darn important that Twitter is going to verify you, they have some responsibility to make sure that it's you when you tweet."
Wisniewski's words hit particularly hard in the wake of several highly public, security compromises involving Twitter in recent weeks, when accounts belonging to the Associated Press, CBS, NPR, BBC and other news outlets were compromised and misused by hackers.
When the Associated Press' Twitter account was used to falsely report two explosions at the White House and an injury to the president, the Dow Industrial Average experienced a (short-lived) 140-point dip.
The two-step (or two-factor) authentication that Twitter is implementing basically means that logging into an account requires two proofs of identity — typically a password and a temporary code sent to a cellphone or generated by an app. This way, a compromised password alone isn't enough to lose control of an account.
It's a log-in approach already used by Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
And while such an arrangement does keep your account significantly safer, you should still heed O'Leary's cautions: "Of course, even with this new security option turned on, it’s still important for you to use a strong password."
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