GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - A hacker gained access to The Associated Press's Twitter account Tuesday tweeting out misinformation about President Barack Obama's safety, which caused a momentary free fall in the stock market.
The tweet reported the White House had been attacked and that the president had been injured.
It never happened but it sent stocks plummeting about 150 points. The stock market then rebounded and then some shortly after the AP sent out a tweet saying their account had been hacked.
"That is as peculiar a momentary drop I've seen in a very long time," said financial advisor David Schwandt, owner of PlanViser Financial.
"It underscores the wisdom of holding steady."
The incident forced The AP to temporarily shut down its Twitter feed Tuesday while it figures out how it exactly happened.
"It doesn't take much to capture a username and password," said Jake DeWoskin, a security expert with McGladrey.
He believes what happened Tuesday should be a wakeup call for everyone, especially since social media is seemingly everywhere.
"More than 90 percent of companies now have at least one staff member with social media as part of their job description," said DeWoskin.
He says one of the more serious threats to companies and their computer security is perhaps their smallest tool, an employee's smart phone.
"When you're dealing with mobility you're very often dealing with foreign and unsecured networks," he said.
He says often times, employees access their company's Twitter feed or Facebook page when they're on their mobile phone, not realizing they may be using a hotspot set up by a hacker.
It's something he demonstrated in a KARE 11 EXTRA last year with relative ease. Hackers may often label the Wi-Fi hotspot as a legitimate business.
"If you don't have to be on it from a mobile device, access it on a system that you know is secure," he said.
He recommends companies establish a set of guidelines for employees when logging into the company's systems, especially when an employee is not within company walls.
When it comes to Twitter's security, it is still unclear how someone hacked into the AP's account, but he anticipates Twitter will increase its security soon by using what is known as a two-factor authentication, or putting in two different passwords when you log in.
"I wouldn't be quick to cast aspersions on Twitter because they're not offering two-factor authentications. I do think it's in the future of most of these services," he said.
"Social networking sites are gaining traction in the business community," DeWoskin added. "We're probably going to start seeing more occurrences of unauthorized access, hacks or exploits."
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