Cyber criminals have used the Internet and Twitter to influence the U.S. Stock Market, and in the future, who knows what else. Recently, the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked, and a bogus tweet generated “from the AP” stating that the White House was attacked. The result was its belief by many people and organizations in the world, including the Stock Market. As you might expect, the market reacted with a selloff and a large but short-lived plunge in its value.
It’s reported that the tactic used to penetrate the AP Twitter account was a targeted phishing (or spear phishing) attack; where phishing emails were sent to specific AP staffers with the intent to get them to reveal their Twitter account credentials. Once one staffer succumbed to the attack, the criminals had access to the AP account and the ability to send tweets supposedly from the Associated Press.
Some might think that this particular attack was done to make money on the reaction of the Stock Market. I have a different opinion. I think this was a test attack; to see what the reaction of such news would be in both the cyber and terrestrial realms. My experience is that terrorist organizations have tested our security and observed how we react to events of security violation. They’ve used this tactic to perfect their planning for future attacks. I think this may be what is happening with this Twitter hack.
I base this opinion on the fact that the message was of an attack on the White House. What better way to observe our reaction both from a security and a social point of view? Would we panic as a people? Would the country be put on a high security alert? If so, what might that look like? Would the Stock Market react, and if so, how?
We’ve suspected for some time now, that a terrestrial attack might well be accompanied by a collateral cyber attack. This recent phishing attack could be a test run for a future attack with a different message. One that would create a reaction that would cause widespread panic that, in turn, would increase the effectiveness of the primary attack.
I don’t want to be an alarmist, but we must consider these things if we’re going to be prepared for anything the terrorists might attempt. My background in security has caused me to try to think like terrorists might think. Not like burglars, not like normal hackers, not like any conventional criminals we know…like terrorists.
Another article on this issue: As Its Influence Grows, Twitter Becomes A Hacking Target
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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