Most people are oblivious to the emerging war being fought. This war isn’t in Iraq or Afghanistan. This war involves no guns. No tanks. No boots on the ground. The modern day war is being fought on the digital landscape.
In the last 7 days, numerous organizations and companies have had their Twitter accounts hacked. From @60minutes and @48hours to @AP, these entities are defenseless. Almost always, the attack is done for some sort of self-serving purpose. The 60 minutes account was hacked and began tweeting messages about the Syrian Electronic Army. The SEA, as they are known, also happens to be the organization that claimed responsibility for the attack.
On Tuesday, the world got a glimpse of the vulnerabilities on the social frontier. The SEA hacked into the Associated Press’ account and tweeted a simple message:
Credit to Twitter
That’s right, there was no self-promotion. The hackers issued a false news report that immediately drew international attention on Twitter. Within minutes, word spread that the AP account had been hacked and the report was false. Crisis averted right?! The impact was large enough for the White House Press Secretary to comment that the President was “fine.”
Here is where things get very interesting. In the minutes immediately following the bogus tweet, check out what happened to the DOW:
Credit to Twitter
Within 1 minute, the DOW dropped over 100 points. In 2 minutes, it dropped nearly 150 points. Eventually, the market would recover the loses but the opportunity/vulnerability had already been highlighted. Want to hurt the finanicial health of the US? Tweet a bogus news report and sit back to watch the entertainment. It will be shocking if more attacks don’t occur.
So these social account attacks can be embarrassing but are they actually harmful? Yes. More harmful than most individuals are willing to acknowledge. Twitter is a platform where individuals go for trusted information on an organization. If a company tweets something, there is hell to pay if it is incorrect. Financial traders are paying attention. The public is paying attention. Shit, even employers are paying attention.
Within the next 18-24 months, Twitter accounts will become one of the most valuable assets on a company’s books. Remember I said that. Let me repeat it – Twitter accounts will become one of the most valuable assets on a company’s books. Engrain it in your head.
Not only is there risk potential, but more and more companies will begin to monetize their following. Why can’t Pepsi or Wrangler get “sponsors” to pay them to tweet marketing messages? Competitive products are out of the question obviously. What about complimentary ones? If North Face knew that a majority of their customers wore Wrangler jeans, why wouldn’t they be willing to run a promotion through the Wrangler Twitter account? The answer is that in the near future they will be.
With this new revenue source, companies will spend additional time building up their social following. The larger and more engaged the audience, the more valuable the account is. All of a sudden, companies won’t be looking at Twitter accounts as “that social media thing”, but instead as a valuable asset that must be protected at all costs. Welcome to the age of social warfare. Prepare yourself…
What do you think about the potential value a company may place on their own social assets? Do you tend to see security risks, possible revenue streams, or a lot of hype that will never come to fruition? Comment below or tweet me at @APompliano.