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This article was published on November 26, 2010

Fake Tsunami Warning sent from hacked Indonesian Twitter Account

Fake Tsunami Warning sent from hacked Indonesian Twitter Account
Fraser Smith
Story by

Fraser Smith

Fraser Smith is an IT consultant based in Shanghai, China. He has over 15 years experience in the media industry working with many major ne Fraser Smith is an IT consultant based in Shanghai, China. He has over 15 years experience in the media industry working with many major news publishers. He is also co-owner and editor of edexpat.com the educational resource for international families, teachers and schools. You can contact Fraser via Twitter by following @FrasSmith.

Twitter has become synonymous with breaking news in the last few years, regularly beating the major news channels to breaking stories.  This week’s Korean attacks, for example, appeared on Twitter before any of the major news outlets picked up the story.  So, when a report appears on Twitter, users tend to take it seriously.

Unfortunately this makes it a target for malicious users too.

A Twitter account used by the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono‘s disaster management advisor, Andi Arief, was hacked yesterday and used by just such a malicious user, to spread hoax messages.

The worst of these messages stated simply “Besok jakarta tsunami” which translates as “Jakarta tsunami tomorrow”.   Andi Arief regularly uses his Twitter account to send updates on disaster related information, so the hacker had a credible platform for the messages.  Arief had regained control of his account by Thursday afternoon, posting the following message (translated from Indonesian) ”

Good Afternoon Companions … My Account Has Back to Normal .. Thank you for your attention .. Greetings:)”

Indonesia’s location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region of high volcanic and earthquake activity makes it especially susceptible to natural disasters.  The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 26th December 2004, hit the country’s Aceh province terribly, leaving 127,000 Indonesians dead.

Indonesia has the second largest Twitter user base in the world, so, this malicious message, from a trusted source could have lead to widespread panic, had the hacker not used the account to make political criticism of Arief as well, so giving away his motives.  It only serves to underline the importance that we all should put on ensuring that our passwords are secure and not easily broken.  It isn’t known whether the hacker has been identified or apprehended at this time.

Arief is not the first Indonesian official to have a social media account hacked.  Former Constitutional Court Chairman Jimly Ashiddiqie’s Facebook account was once hijacked and used to sell laptops.