Twitter Attack Raises Security Concerns for Government and Citizens

August 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm 2 comments

Many government agencies are now using social networking sites in order to keep the public informed. Police departments send out event reminders, crime prevention tips, as well as crime information. Fire departments and local municipalities also send out public safety information, including emergency alerts and highway closures. When Twitter and other social networking sites were attacked yesterday, the flow of information was interrupted as users experienced site closures and massive slowdowns and timeouts of service.

The use of these sites as public information conduits has been very beneficial to community members across the US, and an interruption of the service highlighted a concern that many government IT professionals have expressed in the past—that public social networking sites pose some new and complex security issues for government and citizens.

Not only can the flow of data be interrupted, but identity and hacking concerns have come into play. The Twitter accounts of Bill O’Reilly, Brittany Spears, and Barack Obama, among others have been hacked in the past. As well, an impostor created a Twitter page for the Austin Police Department and had 450 followers before users discovered that the profile owner was not the actual Austin Police Department.

This is not to say that Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites should not be used by government agencies and individuals. On the contrary, these sites have been immensely useful and are facilitating the President’s call for greater transparency and data sharing in government. But government agencies, either through technological or policy changes, need to begin to address these issues, and citizens need to understand the issues behind the security concerns. If we want to continue benefiting from these amazing technologies, we will need to address these concerns before they become a larger problem.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Twitted by mdassinger  |  August 7, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    […] This post was Twitted by mdassinger […]

  • 2. SayHeyKid  |  August 10, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Now that these social networking sites are being used by actual businesses and government agencies they are being manipulated by outside sources. Were they not tested, was the possibility of an attach never considered? How can these sites be seriously considered for use by anyone other than your average teen when they can’t be counted on to be reliable. Back to the drawing board unless someone else beats you to it.


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