The Dow Crash Due To A Hacked AP Twitter Account Raises Challenges For SEBI And Twitter

A recent hack of Associated Press Twitter account resulted a temporary dip of 100 points in Dow. How is SEBI and Twitter handling such situations in future.

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140 characters can shape or shake the world. Of late, the 140 character social network, Twitter has been the hunting ground for hackers. According to Verge, the Syrian Electronic Army that was responsible for last year’s Reuters hack, made through the Associated Press Twitter account and posted the below tweet.

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Within no time the tweet spread like wild fire, being retweeted more than thousands of times by the account which had close to 2 million followers. However, the smart followers were quick to point out that the tweet was a hoax. Meanwhile the communication department of AP also tweeted confirming that the AP Twitter account has been hacked and referred the last tweet as “bogus”.


However, the bogus tweet made it effects felt. Dow plummeted nearly 100 points following the bogus tweet, though the market recovered shortly after the sudden dip.

The entire episode has raised two primary questions – 1) Tighter regulations on high-speed trading, and 2) How secure is Twitter at a time when it has been facing such attacks quite often.

Taking this incident seriously, global grouping of securities market regulators, International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) has assured that the body will look into the issue to protect the interests of investors from such incidents. According to Secretary General David J Wright, the matter is going to finds its place in the next meeting of IOSCO members that is to be held in Montreal in June later this year.

SEBI and its relation with social media

Securities and Exchange Board of India, which is a part of IOSCO hasn’t made any statement on how it is going to deal with such out breaks. However, last month we had reported that the regulatory body will be soon issuing guidelines to companies on use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media for sharing non-public material information.

Additionally, SEBI also plans to hire more staff to sift through social media sites and blogs to unearth tips that could impact stock prices before they have been disclosed through official channels. However, SEBI faces the toughest challenge in this regard from sharing of insider tips through Blackberry Messenger (BBM), apps like Whatsapp and the likes.

Though, these developments are happening at the aftermath of the Securities Exchange Commission issuing guidelines for social platforms. SEC was forced to do so after a Facebook post by Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix last year which saw a sudden jump in Netflix’s share prices from $70.45 per share to $81.72 in only a day’s time. And in all this action, investors were left out since the official channels of communication were not adopted.

Twitter and the two-factor authentication

The second big chapter of concern is the growing vulnerability of Twitter as a system. Twitter, which has been keeping away the two-factor authentication on its social network, is finally in the process of testing it. As reported by Wired, the tests are happening on selective accounts but it could be a long way in preventing such attacks to accounts. In the meantime, Twitter has sent out an email to media organizations warning them that they would likely be targeted for future account hijackings and giving them tips on better password security.

Even though the two-factor authentication that asks for a secondary password for accounts who are accessing it by a secondary device, wouldn’t put an end to such hacks, it would however make occurrences of such acts difficult. At a time when Twitter is being used by various bodies and organizations, an enhanced security check has become essential.

Social media has its own set of challenges but how prepared are we as organizations?