Hacker rocks Indonesia with fake tsunami warning

26 Nov 2010

The Twitter account of a major adviser to Indonesia’s president has been hacked and a fake warning was posted that a tsunami is heading for Indonesia.

Andi Arief is Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s disaster management adviser and a frequent user of Twitter.

“After a devastating spell of earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and even a tsunami hitting the country, you can understand why some people would be following him on the microblogging service,” said Graham Cluley, a security expert at Sophos.

This attracted the attention of hackers and when he lost control of his account, a tsunami warning was sent out to Twitter users. “Jakarta tsunami tomorrow.”

Hacking into a Twitter account that is used for disaster relief is bad enough, but for the intruder to also spread malicious warnings makes me think that this must have been the actions of a very sick mind,” said Cluley.

Arief struggled for some hours to get control of his account back, temporarily setting up another Twitter account to spread important information before things returned to normal.

“It isn’t clear at this point exactly how Arief’s account was compromised but a cracked password will surely be suspected,” Cluley said.

Safety on Twitter

“Remember, you should always choose a non-dictionary word that’s hard to guess as your Twitter password, and never use the same password on multiple websites.

“Be on your guard against phishing sites and ensure that your computer is running up-to-date anti-virus software to protect against keylogging spyware which may attempt to steal your information.

“Finally, consider carefully which third-party applications and websites you allow to connect with your Twitter account,” Cluley warned.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years