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How Twitter Hacks Cause Big Problems

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Anonymous (Photo credit: Schuilr)

How Twitter Hacks Cause Big Problems

On Tuesday, April 23, 2013, the Twitter account for the Associated Press was hacked; whether the hack was the result of malicious intent or a practical joke gone sour, the impact was widespread and potentially dangerous. With the AP's Twitter hacked, someone got instant access to an audience of over 880,000 people. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the hackers chose to spread more terror.

The hackers tweeted about a fictional White House bombing and claimed that the President had been hurt. The Internet responded with an uproar as news organizations and homegrown Twitter journalists re-tweeted or investigated the claim. Although it was a single sentence in a myriad of Internet data, the tweet was enough to cause panic and reduce the stock market by over a hundred points.

The AP quickly wrestled back control of its account, tweeted about the hack, and shut down the account for an investigation. At the same time, the hack became an Internet meme of sorts, with some people claiming that the tweet was obviously fake because it didn't comply with the detailed AP style book. Still, the question remains: Why would someone play such a terrible joke, especially in the days following the violence in Boston?

Since Tuesday, the Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for the hack. The organization, which supports the current regime in Syria, also claims recent hacks on NPR and other major organizations. The Syrian Electronic Army is shrouded in mystery; it claims to be a response to misinformation about Syrian uprisings, but so far, the sole purpose of the group seems to be to distort information through online news sites.

Investigations into the AP hack indicate that the breach occurred after a phishing email or comment. That a major organization like the AP can fall prey to such tactics is ample warning for all Internet users: Protect your passwords and be wary of phishing scams and other security risks.

AP Twitter Hack Highlights Vulnerability of Markets

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