A look into Cybersecurity in light of the most recent security breaches on Twitter

by Alex Baer

credit: pehub.com

“Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”

It took less than half of a 140-character tweet for a mischievous hacker to send major news outlets scrambling, stocks plummeting, and just plain make a mess last Tuesday. Rest assured, the leader of the free world is alive and well, minus some on-the-job stress, the New York Stock Exchange has largely rebounded to where it was before the tweet, and the Associated Press has regained control of the account.

With that, cybersecurity is no longer a curiosity for Wired, the butt of a joke on Facebook, or the basis of a scene from a Christopher Nolan Batman movie- it’s in everyone’s mind, and its intent comes across as downright malicious. Hacking is nothing new; it took off in the early 80s, and hasn’t slowed down much since then. It certainly lends itself well to simple pranking, political activism and even high-level military operations (read up on the Stuxnet worm- which we haven’t the time for- as it’s a fascinating read!).

Attacks like the one that befell the Associated Press Twitter account, unfortunately, are starting to become more and more common. Back in May 2011, hackers took control of PBS Online, and published a report stating that Tupac had been found “alive and well” in New Zealand. British tabloid The Sun was hacked a few months later by hacker group Lulzsec; their home page read that media mogul Rupert Murdoch had been found dead of an apparent drug overdose.

The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for the attack, tweeting from the @AP_Mobile Twitter handle that “Syrian Electronic Army was here.” The SEA also appears to have included other big media accounts in what seems to be a coordinated attack, not the least of which is British newspaper giant The Guardian. Both the Twitter account for CBS’ 60 Minutes and CBS Denver were hacked, and tweeted statements supporting the Assad regime in Syria, criticizing Obama for “trying to take away your guns” and supporting “terrorist” rebels.

Twitter has announced that they are working on a two part authentication system to solve their hacking woes, but have yet to release it to the public. In a statement released a few days ago, Twitter warns “We believe that these attacks will continue, and that news and media organizations will continue to be high value targets to hackers.” Later on in the memo, Twitter also urges its users to take necessary precautions with their cybersecurity.

Though it might just seem like a bunch of hot air, or the same BS you’ve heard many times before,  it really goes to show that

we really don’t do enough to stay safe online. No, I’m not talking about locking up your computer cabinet, or resetting every one of your passwords… though the latter might be the case if you still use “password1” to log in to Facebook. Don’t send your password to anybody online; do it in person, or with a paper trail if you need to.

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