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April 2009

twitter security and communications : Mikeyy's implications

Worms So here's what happened:

A worm got into Twitter and posted the following tweets to people's accounts:

Mikeyy I am done…
MikeyyMikeyy is done..
Twitter please fix this, regards Mikeyy
Man, Twitter can’t fix sh*t. Mikeyy owns. :)
Dude, Mikeyy is the sh*t! :)

I am not a security expertb but the marketer in me cannot help but analyze the market implications.

Platforms that are VC or advertiser supported generate their revenue by earning their user's attention.  User attention is best generated in an ongoing, persistent and consistent manner, earning repeat visits.  In order to earn loyal repeat users, web based solutions (aka cloud solutions) must offer the following:

  1. Clear and consistent value that builds across repeat visits.
  2. Strong competitive value above and beyond that of the competition.
  3. A feeling of safety and security in the experience.

Twitter, like most web based social solutions (ex. networks like Facebook, email like Yahoo! Mail or Instant Messaging like Meebo) relies on personal relationship oriented connectivity to drive user loyalty in the form of utilization and visitation.

Given the tremendous amount of hype and press attention focused on Twitter, it is only natural that they would become a ripe target for hackers.

In the short term, Twitter may take some flack for this security breach.  However, the long term impact of this security breach will be determined based on three factors:

  1. Their ability to plug their security hole in a timely manner.
  2. Their short and long term communications success.
  3. Twitter's long term safety and security record.

Failure in any of these three buckets will net serious damage for Twitter, much as it would for any web based solution, particularly a social solution.  With that in mind, check out the official Twitter Blog post on the Mikeyy worm.  Do you believe they hit their communications task head on?

I think they hit all their communications basics head on.  Given the sensitive nature of security leaks and the fact that hackers are likely following the security cleanup looking for a workaround, I think they hit this head on. 

Just think:

  • 5 years ago, we may have expected a short letter. 
  • 15 years ago we would have looked for a press conference. 
  • Today we look to the company for their answer to a controversy. 

Social Media may have democratized the web, bringing a voice to the little guy, but it also made the big marketers into people.  We all have voices.  It is our responsibility to use them appropriately.

PS - I'm not quitting Twitter just yet, and I would advise you to do the same.  This will boil over shortly.  Use twitter with caution, don't click on links, and from what I've read, you may be best off using Twitter through a third party client.  As with all things new, approach with caution, but do not be afraid to innovate from fear of the unknown.

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For some technical analysis, check out these posts - Mickeyy Attack Hits Twitter Users, Mikeyy XSS Mutilates and Continues to Attack, Worm Infects Twitter.

For security advise, check out this post - HowTO: Remove Mikeyy. Update: Looks like the worm is on it's 4th mutation.

And last but not least, apparently Twitter is now a threat to national security.  You've gotta love the hype.  (Video below)

social : a beginners guide (ebook)

Ebook cover Over the past few years, I have presented Social Media/Marketing 101 literally dozens of times.  Over this time, I have gathered a list of the most commonly asked questions, and my proposed answers. 

I have since reformatted this list into my first e-book, Social : A Beginners Guide.

Questions Answered Include:

  • What is social media?
  • Why didn’t I learn about this in college? 
    • I’ve been marketing for 20 years, I know this already!
  • What's the deal with Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/LinkedIn?  How can I make money with them?
  • Should I be on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/LinkedIn?
  • Should I start a blog?
    • Why should I blog?
  • What books should I read?
  • What blogs should I read?
  • What is RSS?
  • What are podcasts? Should I be listening to any in particular?
  • Where's the value for my employer or business?
  • How do I do viral?
  • How do I start?
  • How much does social cost?
  • How long does social take?

Social : A Beginners Guide