Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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Trump’s Twitter account disabled for 11 minutes

The Twitter account of President Donald Trunmp (@realDonaldTrump) was disabled less than 24 hours ago for about 11 minutes and then restored, the New York Times reports.

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Officials at the social media giant went berserk for a few moments of chaos, but it was quickly determined that a rogue contractor, who was working for Twitter for the last day, broke in and disabled Mr Trump’s account.

For his part, Mr Trump seems to be taking it all in stride, but in my opinion, this represents a dangerous intrusion into Mr Trump’s privacy.

What if, instead of disabling Mr Trump’s account, something I thought only the person who owns the account could do on Twitter, this criminal had tweeted something in the president’s name?

I have repeatedly, on these pages, emphasized the fact that no computer system is completely safe. If it can be hacked, it will be hacked, if someone wants the information badly enough. This was a case of one person taking it upon himself to violate Mr Trump’s rights.

You may think I would want Mr Trump to silence his Twitter account for any length of time, even for a short 11 minutes. But even if that were true (it’s not), I would absolutely want that to be Mr Trump’s own personal decision.

But let this be another lesson, like Target, Snowden, Equifax, and a whole bunch of universities and school systems: The only way to keep private information safe and secure is to keep it off the internet altogether.

Let me show you what I mean. Between midnight and 8 PM Eastern Time today, the server Voxitatis uses to scan the internet for school news we report on was hit 127,394 times by robots trying to break in. Fortunately for me, I don’t keep anything on the system in the usual places where these criminals look for it (they’re not very bright, but then again, neither are most computer users when it comes to security). But I can see their pitiful login attempts in the log files and count the lines that show the intrusion attempts.

If, like Mr Trump, I kept information in a Twitter account or any other standard location on the system, my security and privacy would have been compromised thousands of times already.

So, the internet has its good aspects, and no one should stay away in fear of information or identities being stolen or abused. But take steps to protect yourself, rather than adopting a cavalier attitude about security.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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