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Patronis Calls On FDLE To Look Into Social-Media Security After Twitter Hack

Twitter app screenshot
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS
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State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is asking law-enforcement officials to determine potential economic risks to Florida from hacks of social media accounts after a high-profile Twitter hack last week.

In a Monday letter to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen, Patronis said he wants the state’s cyber-security experts to work with federal authorities to understand how such an attack could pose an economic risk to the state.

“Twitter rightfully called the breach ‘embarrassing,’ but I would also characterize it as dangerous; Twitter has clearly been culpably negligent in allowing this infiltration to occur,” Patronis wrote.

He added, “Given the prolific nature of the use of Twitter and other applications as important communications systems used by state and local officials for dissemination of official information, this catastrophic security breach has far-reaching implications.”

Patronis sent the letter after thousands of Twitter accounts, including accounts of former President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Apple and Uber, were hacked, with all tweeting nearly identical links requesting Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

“The attack represents a threat beyond that to all users’ privacy and data security, though those are credible threats given that Florida is experiencing an ongoing fraud epidemic,” Patronis wrote. “This coordinated attack threatens the underpinnings of how the State of Florida shares important information about elections, disasters and other emergencies, and consumer services. One tweet could cause conflicts or send our state’s economy into a tailspin.”

Questions linger about who was responsible for last week’s attack.