Posted on | February 21, 2013 | 1 comment
The defacements of the commercial Twitter accounts of Burger King and Jeep, and the publicity stunt executed by MTV and BET, pretending to be victimized, are the latest example of pranksters disrupting the social media presence of corporations and celebrities.
LasrWatchdog asked branding guru Wilson Tang, head of Digital Creative at TBA Global, and privacy expert, Michael Hussey, Founder and CEO of PeekYou, to weigh in on the larger significance.
Q: Is there any evidence and analysis regarding who’s doing it and what their motivation is? Is it adolescent pranksters? Adult hacktivists? Someone else?
Tang: At the moment, some media outlets are claiming that a New England-based DJ named Tony Chuha might be the culprit. He’s a member of the of the same hacking group that attacked Paris Hilton’s T-Mobile Sidekick in 2005. The only evidence so far is that he bragged both it on Facebook before deleting his account. As far as motivation, the answer, totally my conjecture, is because he can.
Hussey: These sorts of hacks and viruses are not new. Hacking can be defined in many ways – but if you loosely define it as an attempt to disrupt a digital property through illegal means, then the largest companies are constantly under attack, 24/7, but so are thousands of smaller companies, too, every single day. This story is getting more press because of President Obama’s recent calls for congressional action on cybersecurity.and there is plenty in the proposed bills that doesn’t look too good.
Q: What’s the pattern? Has anyone tallied up defacements over the past several weeks, months, year?
Tang: The only discernible pattern is that as brands engage on more and more mediums hackers will always be motivated to find new entry points for attack. Be it the brands’ websites, IT infrastructure and now social media.
Hussey: The pattern only seems to be one of general chaos – but I don’t see anything all that unique over the past several weeks, other than that more of the general public is becoming aware of these illegal activities because the President has been calling attention to it.
Q: What is the material damage, if any, short term to Twitter, or potential long term damage?
Tang: I doubt there is any long term damage to Twitter. If anything, the short term impact is that a lot more marketing teams are having meetings about how to professional manage their Twitter communications and what tools and policies to implement. Companies like HootSuite and CoTweet probably saw a major traffic bump over the last few days.
Hussey: If the average Twitter user feels their data and account is not secure, there will definitely be long term damage. That goes for any company, which is why network and data security are such important businesses. Perhaps the motivation of some of the foreign hackers, who are targeting not just Twitter, but all major social networks , i.e. Facebook, and brands, i.e. Apple, is to undermine consumer trust in these platforms.
Q: Is there any real damage, to the brands, or is this just a temporary nuisance?
Tang:For Jeep and Burger King, I doubt there will be any last damage to their brand. In this case, the hackers were well-natured enough that the colloquialism “any news is good news” will likely play out that way. However, I do think that MTV and BET’s hack prank has practically invited hackers to attempt to hack their sites and social media outlets.