AP Twitter hacking highlights defects in social media monitoring

AP Twitter hacking highlights defects in social media monitoring
SHARE
THIS



The hacking of Associated Press' (AP) official Twitter feed last week was a sobering reminder of the unparalleled and unchecked power of the Twittersphere.

Last Tuesday a cyber hacking group known as The Syrian Electronic Army broke into AP’s account and posted a bogus Tweet declaring there had been explosions at the White House.

The Tweet, which claimed president Barack Obama had been injured in the attack, sent the stock market momentarily into freefall as Wall Street responded to the news.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped almost 150 points in a matter of seconds before bouncing back when traders realised the tweet was fake.

The event showcased the enormous degree of trust global corporations have put in the social network to deliver them true insights – a trust which is now in question. Twitter’s simplistic security measures clearly need to be addressed.

But it also threw the spotlight on the shortcomings of automated data monitoring services used by corporations and businesses the world over to gain real time insights, Julian Ward, MD of We Are Social told B&T.

“It probably wasn’t even people the hackers were targeting. The real target looked to be the automated monitoring services for social media and the news sites.

“Some of these services scan 50,000 news sources and millions of social media sites and profiles, sifting through the data in an attempt to make some sense of the mass of information.

“Whereas an agency like ours is looking for real insight and emerging issues to offset potential crisis, the trading world is looking to execute on relevant strings of words in a micro second, so effectively without human analysis and without time for intervention,” he said.

The Tweet, posted at 10:07am on the 23rd of April, read: “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured”.

According to Ward, the style and tone of the post was not typically ‘AP’. But data monitoring services don’t pick up nuances, and therein lies one of the greatest dangers of automated analytics.

“Questions have arisen around the unusual style of the news post, with it clearly not looking to blend in. It seemed to be a blatant attempt to trigger set up monitoring alerts which connected the string of keywords, packaged this as trading system data and delivered it in less than one thousandth of a second, triggering the algorithmic trading spiral – straight down,” said Ward.

 “Access to this sort of data is incredibly powerful if you have the means to accurately interpret it. The scary side is the ease at which you could manipulate the systems in the trading domain."

One of the major issues raised by the hacking has been Twitter’s lack of security.

According to international reports, Twitter is currently considering adding a two-step approval practice which would see Tweeters forced to log in with both their regular user name and password in addition to an extra code, which would be sent to a different device or email.

“Security is definitely an issue they are going to have to have a look it," said Tommy Tudehope, social media strategist at Social@Ogilvy. "All organisations need to consider their security software and passwords and who has access to accounts. We know that hacking is on the rise and those who are engaged in hacking often have the best tools at their disposal and are pushing the boundaries every single day. So there is a case for increasing the security around social media tools.” 

While Tudehhope believes stronger passwords might solve the problem – “ Many organisations still use the most simplistic password like ‘password’” he says – Ward believes the two step process has merit.

“Two step verification can help protect an account if a password is obtained,” he said. “It’s a simple enough approach that stops more basic attacks and means that dedicated hackers will need to have your physical phone or to have compromised the secondary device as well.

“The real world issue is many of the accounts that would be prime hacking targets would be using various management applications and possibly have multiple people contributing, so there are some obvious questions around practicality and whether this could or even would be used.”

And if not to protect reputation, publishers will no doubt be pressuring the social network to improve security to prevent severe legal ramifications from the distribution of false information.

Nick Economidis, an underwriter with Beazley, a financial-services company in London that sells data-breach insurance, told The Age at the time of the hacking:

‘‘A media publisher conceivably could be sued for negligence if things are published under their name that is not true and if they didn’t take reasonable steps to prevent the erroneous publication of information.

‘‘Some people may have lost money in the market today based on the news story. Those people may seek redress against the Associated Press.’’

The FBI is currently investigating the hackings.

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Bauer’s Cosmo Named Official Mardi Gras Media Partner
  • Marketing
  • Media

Bauer’s Cosmo Named Official Mardi Gras Media Partner

Bauer Media has announced Cosmopolitan magazine as an official media partner of the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. COSMO’s Mardi Gras sponsorship will deliver a month-long celebration of activities in the Parade’s 40th anniversary year. In addition to the event sponsorship, COSMO is producing its second Pride Issue for March, on sale 5th […]

A Guide To Understanding Your Digital Marketer
  • Opinion

A Guide To Understanding Your Digital Marketer

In this guest column, Logie-nominated journalist, Leisa Goddard (main photo), who is also the managing director of media, PR and digital agency, Adoni Media, offers her personal guide to making your way through digital marketing buzzwords and gobbledygook… Do you feel as though your digital marketer speaks to you in a language you don’t understand? In today’s highly-competitive world […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]

What To Expect From The App Economy In 2018
  • Opinion
  • Technology

What To Expect From The App Economy In 2018

Here's an insightful, authoritative synopsis of the app economy. So, you're right, it wasn't written by a B&T journo.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Farm Foods Rebrands To Target Modern Aussie Families Via Tiny Hunter
  • Marketing

Farm Foods Rebrands To Target Modern Aussie Families Via Tiny Hunter

Seasoned meat supplier Farm Foods Butchers has rebranded its selection of sausages, burgers, meatballs and ready-to-cook meat products to appeal to the modern Aussie family. The 100 per cent family-owned and operated business based in Breakwater, Victoria worked with Sydney-based branding and packaging design company Tiny Hunter. Together, they created a brand which connects with […]

Animal Logic Shows Off New Website In Collaboration With Protein One
  • Marketing
  • Media

Animal Logic Shows Off New Website In Collaboration With Protein One

Aussie visual FX and feature animation studio Animal Logic has unveiled its new web experience – a reimagined website – in collaboration with Sydney digital agency Protein One. Animal Logic felt it was important to engage a local digital agency to represent its brand online. The company’s online personality was one that required a team […]

Raunchy Marathon Ad Causes Utter Confusion
  • Campaigns

Raunchy Marathon Ad Causes Utter Confusion

B&T likes to award the "dumbest ad of the day" with a 15-inch devon knob. And this would be a processed meats shoe-in.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Red Agency Wins Bio-Oil PR Account
  • Marketing

Red Agency Wins Bio-Oil PR Account

Red Agency staff set to challenge for the record for most people to squeeze into a lift after winning Bio-Oil business.