Security Advisor

AP Twitter Hack Causes False Panic

The Dow Jones took a tumble after a fake alert about a White House attack was posted on the news organization's Twitter feed.

Stocks trading hit a speed bump yesterday after unknown individual(s) hacked the Associate Press' official Twitter account.

Once in the hands of the miscreants, the following message was posted: "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."

This sent the Dow Jones reeling, as it dropped 140 points (1 percent) following the fake AP tweet. However, it did recover the loss after AP said the tweet was not legitimate.

"Earlier this afternoon the @AP Twitter account was hacked," said the AP in a blog post. "Out of a sense of caution, we have suspended other AP Twitter feeds. We are working with Twitter to sort this out."

The Obama administration also refuted the tweet in a press briefing held shortly after the false message was released. "The president is fine," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. "I was just with him."

The group believed to be responsible is a pro-Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hacker collective called the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA). The group was also believed to be responsible for the hacking of NPR.org and NPR's official Twitter account earlier this month. According to the group's Web site, SEA is "a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria."

For those that have grown weary to the constant Twitter account hack stories, a new security system is currently being cooked up by the social media company.

"Unfortunately the problem that Twitter has is common across the industry, but there is hope," commented security firm TeleSign's CTO, security expert Charles McColgan, in an e-mailed statement. "Companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are now starting to offer optional two-factor authentication into accounts since they have begun to fully embrace the fact that a user name and password simply aren't sufficient to protect online accounts."

According to Wired, Twitter has been internally testing a two-step authentication process (password and mobile key) that should start rolling out to users incrementally in the near future. While there aren't any definite dates for its official rollout, yesterday's incident may light a fire under Twitter's feet to get it out in the next few weeks.

 

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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