Channel NewsAsia

New cyber threat known as "Tweet Storm" emerges: IDA

Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority recently noticed a call for a "Tweet Storm" to target the government's Twitter accounts. It added that tweet storms do not affect the government infrastructure network.

SINGAPORE: A new trend of cyber threat known as "Tweet Storm" has emerged.

This threat is carried out on social media platform Twitter and is caused when Twitter users send out the same tweet at the same time.

It is mostly used to promote a cause. Recent examples include hacktivists tweeting about Guantanamo Bay in May last year and the political situation in Bahrain.

Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) recently noticed a call for a "Tweet Storm" to target the Singapore government’s Twitter accounts.

However, IDA said tweet storms do not affect the government's infrastructure network.

The IDA noticed the call for a "Tweet Storm" on January 16.

A netizen claiming to be from the hacktivist group Anonymous has urged people to tweet storm on two Singapore government’s Twitter accounts at @govsingapore and @MFAsg.

The person also demanded the release of five men recently arrested for vandalising a wall in Singapore.

Netizens were also urged to email Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to support its cause.

The "Tweet Storm" did not happen.

It is understood that the Ministry of Home Affairs and all government agencies have been alerted to this incident.

There has not been any unusual activity in the government’s Twitter or email accounts.

Cyber security experts said a "Tweet Storm" may cause inconvenience to some internet users but it is largely harmless.

Anthony Lim, member of the Application Security Advisory Board, said: "No data is lost or stolen. No systems are destroyed so from a security point of view, I would dare say harmless.

He added: "(However), important messages during the time that you're trying to get to that target may be lost because there are thousands (of) nonsensical messages - if it happens - that are crowding out the target."

Lawyers said planning a "Tweet Storm" could have legal implications.

Gilbert Leong, partner of law firm Rodyk & Davidson LLP, explained: "There are provisions in the penal code, when read together with the Computer Misuse and Cyber Security Act, may constitute a crime.

"Because if you were to abet somebody - or rather a group of 10 or more - as an instigator, or abettor, you could commit an offence just by gathering up these people to commit an offence of Denial of Service which is essentially what this "Tweet Storm" is going to be."

The IDA said it does not condone actions designed to disrupt public services or cause inconvenience to the public, and it will continue to monitor the situation.

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna