News Column

AP Twitter Hack May Prompt Social Media Security Measures

April 25, 2013

This week's hack of The Associated Press' Twitter account rocked Wall Street and may force execs at the private San Francisco-based social media darling to address online security issues before another major embarrassment occurs.

While no security system is foolproof, experts say Twitter could begin by introducing a two-step authentication process to avoid a repeat of Tuesday's tweet, which claimed that two bombs had exploded at the White House, injuring President Obama.

The tweet sent the stock market tumbling 150 points before the White House reassured the nation that it was a hoax. But it wasn't the first time a news organization's Twitter account had been compromised.

Days before the AP incident, CBS' "60 Minutes" account also was targeted by hackers, another instance that might have been avoided had Twitter implemented the kind of two-step authentication that Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple already offer.

In addition to typing in your username and password to get access to your account, those systems typically also require you to enter another piece of information, such as a PIN that's sent to you in a text message.

"I wouldn't necessarily use this method to launch nuclear weapons, but it makes me feel pretty close to perfectly safe," said Chester Wisniewski, senior security advisor at Sophos, a global computer-security firm. "It's a minor inconvenience for peace of mind."

Even a flawless security system, however, doesn't guard against the perils of bad reporting, said David Gerzof Richard, president of BIGfish Communications and professor of social media and marketing at Emerson College.

"If the tweets they're sending out are incorrect," he said, referring to some overanxious reporting in the days following the Marathon bombings, "then a two-step authentication doesn't do much good."


(c)2013 Boston Herald

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: Copyright Boston Herald (MA) 2013

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