The fact that U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was deactivated for about 11 minutes on Thursday by a contract staff who was leaving the company, has caused a cause for concern and raised questions about how much access and control Twitter Inc.’s workforce has over an individual user’s account.
Though Twitter has controls to prevent employees from making tweets from user accounts, the incident suggests that the employee still had some access to accounts and the ability to make changes without much oversight or the need for approval.
Yvette Connor, chief risk officer at Focal Point Data Risk, which consults with boards and executives on technology security said:
“At a high level, this implies a level of complacency, that organizations generally are perhaps trying to convince themselves they have technology risk managed”.
“In Twitter’s case, the reputational risk that they face is that the information that’s under their care, custody and control is not really under their care, custody and control.”
“We have learned that this was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day,”
After citing inadvertent “human error” in an earlier post.
Twitter said in its posts that it was investigating and taking steps to prevent a recurrence of the incident but didn’t give specifics.
With an accurate system constantly keeping track of activity and controls, “Twitter would have known in 30 seconds — in 15 seconds — that the account of the president had been turned off,” Connor said.
When Trump’s account went down, attempts to call up his personal page, @realDonaldTrump, turned up a message saying, “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”, prompting many Twitter users to send out screenshots. The official twitter account for the U.S. president, @POTUS, wasn’t affected though.
“My Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee,” Trump tweeted early Friday. “I guess the word must finally be getting out — and having an impact.”
The incident caused a tweetstorm online.
While Trump supporters used the opportunity to highlight security issues, many Twitter users praised the employee’s last act, some calling the person a hero or a national treasure, others inviting the person over for Thanksgiving dinner.
U.S. Representative Ted Lieu, a Democratic from California, tweeted an offer to buy the employee a Pizza Hut pizza for making “America feel better for 11 minutes.”