Russia reportedly tried to hijack Pentagon Twitter accounts

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The Russians aren't just hacking emails to influence US politics. According to a report sent to US counterintelligence officials last month, Russia has started to use Twitter in it's attack on our country. The report round that Russians sent infected messages to more than 10,000 Defense Department Twitter accounts, each tailored to the individuals' interests and tastes. The attached malware connected those users to a server that gave Russia access to the victim's Twitter account. Imagine thousands of legitimate Twitter users with the legitimacy of actual government officials sending out authentic-sounding misinformation and you'll have an idea of the panic this may have caused among intelligence officials.

"At any given moment, perhaps during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack," writes Time's Ben Wiseman, "Pentagon Twitter accounts might send out false information. As each tweet corroborated another, and covert Russian agents amplified the messages even further afield, the result could be panic and confusion." It isn't clear, however, whether any accounts were compromised by the Russian attempts, which were made after the 2016 election.

The problem isn't confined to Twitter, of course. Facebook recently reported that it had found fake accounts on its own social network created to manipulate public opinion with fake news and disinformation. Time notes that government officials believe the original 2016 email scandal is only a small, more visible part of an ongoing Russian attempt to attack the foundation of the American democratic system. "If there has ever been a clarion call for vigilance and action against a threat to the very foundation of our democratic political system," testified former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, "this episode is it."

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