To make a long story short, an Australian teenager entered a bit of script into tweet this week, just to see if it would work. The script was copied by spammers, and wreaked havoc in the Twitterverse, by changing the color of the font on some Twitter users' tweets (gasp!), caused multiple re-tweets for some (ok, that's annoying), and casused some users to get spam pop-ups (totatally unacceptable!!). The problem has been corrected, and no damage was done.
But long stories are never short, and the blogosphere is still going bonkers over the event, and all of the possible future ramifications (google "Twitter hacked").
Technically, Twitter wasn't "hacked," because no one gained accesss to the sites' or it's users' private information, or got "inside" the site in any way. All of the chaos was happening in the user portion of the site. This was a type of attack, similar to a denial of service attack, in which an attacker sends so many hits to a site that it crashes the servers, making the site unavailable to all or some users. Twitter lost control of the user experience for a short time.
To be sure, Twitter needs to patch the security flaw that allowed this to occur, and they apparently have.
The moral of the story? Successful Social networks make big targets. Whenever using any the web, no matter how reputable the site you're visiting, make sure your firewall and anti-virus protection is up-to-date. The next time, that script may be more than just "annoying."
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.