Associated Press Twitter Hacking Confirms Need For Social Media Security Professionals

At approximately 1:00 p.m. ET, a hacker group, previously responsible for revealing sensitive financial records of high profile celebrities, government officials, and politicians, posted the following message on the Associated Press Twitter account, "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”

AP suspended its Twitter account within 15 minutes, but not before the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 134 points in reaction to the message. The Dow has recovered since discovering that the message was a fake.


AP joins CBS’s 60 Minutes and 48 Hours as the latest news organization to have their Twitter accounts hacked this week. This is also the latest incident of high impact erroneous information being disseminated through Twitter and other social media outlets. Last week we saw several erroneous messages posted about the Boston Marathon massacre. The voracious appetite of the consumer and the ease with which the information mediums can be attacked and altered requires that we examine cyber security and cyber intelligence. The incident highlights the growing need for companies to have a comprehensive social media security program.

The speed of the internet and the sensitivity and volatility of the information has given rise to a new domain of security expertise. The Social Media Security Professional is a subject matter expert in social media principles, technical composition, risk management and incident response. The Ultimate Knowledge Institute provides a SMSP certification program. UKI states that the SMSP “has the skills necessary to anticipate attacks and guard sensitive information from social media hackers, and, in the event of a breach, have tools to quickly respond to security incidents.” CompTIA notes that the SMSP was requested by the U.S. Department of Defense and addresses the growing need to mitigate social media risks.

Today there are lots of vendors providing solutions for social media monitoring (HootSuite, Expion, and Vitrue) as it relates to marketing and sales, however there is also a need for social media monitoring as it relates to breaches. The Social Media Security Professional can help a company evaluate tools, develop acceptable usage policies, incident response procedures and risk management strategies.

World events, major tragedies, natural disasters, etc., are driving the world’s hunger for information. Technological advancements are making it easier and more convenient to access and consume that information on demand. The sensitivity of the information and the ease with which it can be altered requires that companies think about hiring staff that are solely devoted to monitoring social media networks. These eyes would be responsible for 24/7 vigilant monitoring of a company or individual’s Twitter and other social media account.