The co-founder of web-hosting service Wikipedia appears to have become the latest in a string of high-profile individuals to fall victim to social media hacking.
On Saturday the verified Twitter account of Jimmy Wales was accessed and tampered with to tweet the message "RIP Jimmy Wales, 1966 – 2016”, followed by another minutes later which read "I confirm that Wikipedia is all lies, OurMine is the true".
This suggests that the hacking group known as ‘OurMine’ was behind the breach, adding Wales to its list of victims which already includes Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey.
The tweets (which have since been deleted) obviously stirred up some concern at the time over the well-being of the renowned American internet entrepreneur, but he was quick to allay such fears and confirmed all was well with the message “I'm (obviously) OK, and tweeting back to normal.”
This latest hack serves as a reminder that social media accounts are often prime targets for cyber-criminals as, unlike many other online resources, they rely entirely on passwords.
“Social media sites do not offer ‘private’ log-in names as a feature. You’re limited to what everybody else can see. Thus, social media accounts are easy targets,” Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure , told Infosecurity .
To reduce the risk of being hit through their social media accounts, Sullivan urged users to take care to never repeat password use.
“This is the key issue, a hack/breach of one service will jeopardize others if you reuse your passwords across multiple sites. The hackers can easily figure out what username to use – then they just try previously known passwords,” he added.