US hack highlights risks of social media (but stick with it)

If a US military agency can have its Twitter account hacked, Australian departments are at least as vulnerable. Here’s how to prevent it — as much as anyone can.

The embarrassing hijack of the United States Central Command Twitter and YouTube accounts on Monday by supporters of the Islamic State highlights a small but ever-present risk for government organisations.

But given the generally limited consequences of having a social media account taken over or a website defaced, for at most, a few hours, that risk is far outweighed by the massive benefits of social media.

The hack may have been a propaganda win for a high-profile enemy, but officials have been quick to hose down security fears. In a calm and measured response, CENTCOM reassured the public its sensitive military networks had not been compromised and that the incident had no operational impact.

Government 2.0 consultant Craig Thomler, who runs Delib Australia, says there’s limitations to how secure you can make a Twitter, YouTube or Facebook account. “If somebody really wants to get into your account on these things, they’re going to be able to do it,” he told The Mandarin. “People are going to hack these services from time to time.”

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