Twitter warns that hackers will continue to target the media

By Danny Palmer
01 May 2013 View Comments

Twitter has responded to a spate of high-profile hacks against media organisations with advice on how to remain secure and a chilling warning – the cyber attacks will keep coming.

The alert comes following an attack by the Syrian Electronic Army, which saw pro-Assad regime hackers hijack a number of Guardian Twitter accounts. Other publishers including the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have all suffered security breaches in recent months.

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Twitter sent an email on Monday to news organisations advising on how to protect against their Twitter accounts being hacked and suggesting that policy for dealing social media needs to be examined.

"There have been several recent incidents of high-profile news and media Twitter handles being compromised," said the email. "We believe that these attacks will continue, and that news and media organisations will continue to be high-value targets to hackers."

Advice from Twitter also included using passwords consisting of a random string of over 20 characters and suggesting that organisations dedicate "one computer to use for Twitter".

"This helps keep your Twitter password from being spread around," the email continued, "Don't use this computer to read email or surf the web, to reduce the chances of malware infection."

While the advice is sound when it comes to bolstering security, much of it could be impractical for news organisations. In an industry that places high importance on reacting quickly to events, the idea of a Twitter account being restricted to one computer seems somewhat far-fetched.

Twitter is currently coming under pressure to boost its own security against hacks with a two-tier authentication system, requiring the entry of both a password and other, separate information, in the event tha access is attempted from a new country or a new device. Facebook already employs such a system to protect its users.

According to The Committee to Protect Journalists, media corporations and individual staff are increasingly becoming targets for cyber attacks as some organisations, and rogue states, attempt to censor the press.

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