When the Associated Press’ Twitter feed announced there had been two explosions at the White House leaving President Obama seriously injured, the reaction was rapid and widespread. The Dow dropped an alarming 145 points as the shocking news made its way through the financial markets. Just three minutes later, the world learned that in actual fact all was well and that the AP’s Twitter account had been hacked.
In that few minutes, $136 billion was lost, which underscores how dependent some Wall Streeters have become on secondary news feeds to inform trading strategies. As cyber attacks and hacks become more prevalent, those that feed world markets with news will need to strengthen their infrastructure to prevent these types of breaches.
Social media and other web-based platforms have begun to investigate and implement more stringent forms of security that are similar to those employed by the world’s largest banks.
One example would be Google who, since being hacked last year, has implemented a two-factor authentication process to protect remote users. Now, when a user logs into their Gmail from a remote location, they must enter not only a password, but also a code delivered to their cell phone. The thinking is that if a hacker has gained unauthorized access to the victim’s laptop or PC, they will not have access to their cell phone as well.
Twitter is also exploring new ways to authenticate accounts for verified sources that are at risk of being attacked. In this regard, the media industry is taking a lesson from the financial services industry. Nevertheless, one must also take note of the power of social media today. Following the AP breach, trading was halted and $136 billion was lost. All of that from just 140 characters? Pretty impressive.