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Twitter ramps up efforts to safeguard high-profile accounts ahead of US election

The company said it will make it tougher for bad actors to take over the accounts of certain politicians, political journalists and other users.

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Twitter will require certain accounts to have a strong password.

Angela Lang/CNET

Twitter is taking new steps to better protect the accounts of high-profile politicians and political journalists, as well as other notable users, as the US presidential election nears, the company said Thursday.

In the coming weeks Twitter will increase "login defenses to prevent malicious account takeover attempts," make it easier to recover a hacked account and implement "more sophisticated detections and alerts" to respond to suspicious activity on high-profile accounts. Users getting this extra layer of protection include members of the US executive branch and Congress, US governors and secretaries of state, major US news outlets and politicians. Presidential campaigns, political parties and some candidates running for Congress or governor will also get the enhanced security measures.

Accounts covered by the new protocols will be required to use a strong password and will receive a notification if the existing password is weak. Strong passwords include at least 10 characters and a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. The company will also enable by default a setting that requires an account to confirm a stored email and phone number before the password can be reset. Twitter recommends the accounts enable two-factor authentication, which provides users an extra level of security.

The new measures come as election security rises in importance for the social media site in the wake of a July incident in which hackers took over the accounts of high-profile users, including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, former US president Barack Obama and ex-New York City mayor and onetime presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, as part of a cryptocurrency scam. Hackers were able to bypass the security protections placed on the accounts by tricking Twitter employees into handing over credentials needed to access the social network.

Twitter is encouraging users to ramp up their security protections on the site by using a strong password, enabling two-factor authentication and being wary about suspicious links.

The election is on Nov. 3.