The political scandal du jour involves New York congressman Anthony Weiner. Last week a conservative media group charged him with sending lewd pictures to a 21 year old woman via his Twitter account.
Initially, the congressman denied the allegation, claiming that his account was hacked and it was just a juvenile prank. As more pictures began to surface, the congressman admitted to sending the image in question and many others to six different women over the last three years.
This practice, known as sexting (sex + texting), has gotten a lot of people in trouble, as it leaves a trail of data that can easily be uncovered. The disgraced legislator is now paying the price for his reckless behavior in cyberspace. He has refused to resign from office, despite calls from some of his colleagues and many of his political opponents.
As convoluted as Weiner's denialÂ was, it was not implausible that he had been hacked. It's easier than you may think to hack someone's Twitter account.Â If you're curious, here's one way to do it. For other possible explanations, read Errata Security's “Weiner Schnitzel” story.
Of course we now know what really happened. For once, hackers weren't responsible. But this sordid story still offers lessons for everyone. As the hacks of corporations like Sony, Gmail and most recently, Citibank, make clear, online security as got to be improved–and fast.
In the meantime, take your own personal security precautions. If you use Twitter, limit access to your account. Have a unique password that you only use for Twitter. Use a strong password, change it periodically and keep it secure.
Remember that social media is designed to help you share information. Privacy settings notwithstanding, assume that anything you share online can be viewed publicly and act accordingly.
As for sexting, some things are best done offline, don't you think?