Tulare County authorities on alert after AP hacking


From Twitter to Facebook, local officials use social media sites not only personally but to communicate with the public. They share with us their own security issues and what you can do to increase your own social networking safety.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Department has Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts to better communicate with residents and the media. But even when they first joined social media, they needed to take steps protect the authenticity of the law enforcement agency.

Sgt. Chris Douglass said, "We noticed there were some sites out there whether Twitter and Facebook that were very similar or used names like sheriff's dept."

The sites were quickly closed down.

This week, the Associated Press' Twitter account was hacked with a tweet that read "Breaking: Two explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."

The fraudulent tweet sent stocks plummeting.

Sgt. Chris Douglass says the incident forced them to take a look at their own security measures to make sure their accounts were protected. "Anytime something like that happens it's a useful resource for us to learn from."

Twitter gave companies tips on how to protect themselves from hackers. Sgt. Douglass says, for personal users, it's best to have complicated passwords and frequently check your account.

"A lot of management and staff do like the page or subscribe to it so we know instantly, we get a text message instantly letting us know something was posted," said Sgt. Chris Douglass.

Tulare County Supervisor Phil Cox experienced hacking first-hand.

Cox explained, "It was my son and he said you need to get on your Facebook account right now and delete a picture and so I went on and looked and there was a picture of a lady who had taken a picture of herself in a mirror and posted some pretty provocative language."

Cox quickly removed the picture, posted an apology to his friends and changed his password. He suspects mischievous kids broke into his account.

The AP's Twitter hacking is a whole different story and may be harder to prevent according to Cox. "Those out to do some harm they're going to get past those firewalls we have people that spend their life trying to hack things."

Twitter sent out an email to companies about how they believe the AP was hacked. And to watch out for phishing emails, which ask you to click on a link, and can appear to be from someone you know.

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