Does the New AMEX Twitter Sync Put Your Bank Account in Danger?

In 2013, it’s easier to buy whatever you need than ever before. Well, Twitter and American Express are teaming up to make it even easier: Welcome to the world of pay by tweet.

The AmEx Twitter sync allows you to pay with a Tweet and a hash tag — but does having an AmEx sync with your Twitter account put your bank account in danger? We talked to online security expert Steven Weisman of Scamicide about this very question.

How Do I Pay With a Tweet?

You need two things to use Amex Twitter sync: A qualifying American Express card and a public Twitter account. You can then pay for special deals you learn about through Twitter advertising using little more than a hash tag.

Once you tweet the right hash tag, you’ll get a confirmation email letting you know that you’ve just made a purchase online. American Express and Twitter say that it’s secure, but security expert Steven Weisman isn’t so sure.

Why Should I Be Concerned About Pay By Tweet?

“Your information is only as secure as the weakest place that holds it,” explains Weisman, a professor at Bentley University. He highlights a number of high-profile Twitter hacks to underscore just how insecure this medium is. “Last week the AP’s Twitter was hacked. The Guardian’s Twitter got hacked. Twitter itself was hacked, compromising over a quarter million people’s information.”

A confirmation email doesn’t mean much in terms of security, he explains. This is because once your information has been compromised, there’s a good chance that the hackers already have access to your email account. “Twitter has already been hacked,” says Weisman, “so they’re not the one that you want to partner up with.”

What Are Some Things To Watch Out For?

Weisman highlights a number of ways that your security can become compromised, even if you have a rock-solid password.

Linkbaiting, also known as clickbaiting, is one of the most common. In this case, you’re given a link to click based on your interests. When you click it, a keystroke logger is installed that captures everything you type, including passwords to sensitive information such as your bank account. These are common on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

“What happens is that anything on your computer is fair game,” Weisman says. “A lot of the bigger hacking attacks that have happened recently have just been people showing what they’re capable of, to highlight the vulnerability.”

Perhaps worst of all, people are increasingly doing their social networking from their smartphones. Most smartphone users do not secure their devices properly. This means that hackers can break into them through even easier methods than they would a computer. As stated above, Twitter is not a secure platform, especially when you are announcing to the world that you have a good credit card that you use for online purchases, as with the American Express sync.

“It’s a horror show,” says Weisman. “You know the ending of this better than you do a slasher movie — it’s not going to end well.”