Technology

Twitter suspends accounts sharing beheading images

The social network says users caught posting images from the gruesome video of the alleged beheading of photojournalist James Foley will have their accounts yanked.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced Wednesday that the social network was suspending all accounts that posted images from the appalling video allegedly showing the beheading of photojournalist James Foley.

“We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you,” Costolo tweeted.

Foley, 40, was kidnapped in Syria about two years ago while working as a freelance journalist, according to The New York Times. News of his whereabouts since then has been scant. On Tuesday, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria posted a gruesome video to YouTube that it said was the beheading of Foley. The authenticity of the video has not yet been verified and YouTube has since pulled it.

Apparently, before the video was taken off YouTube, several Twitter users got images from the video and have since posted them to the social network. Under Twitter’s terms of service, users cannot post “violence and threats.”

While Twitter has rules against violence in its terms of service, its guidelines are less comprehensive than those of other tech companies. For example, Facebook doesn’t allow promotion of violence or organizations with a record of terrorist or violent activity, and Google Play’s app policies detail strict prohibitions against violence, bullying and hate speech.

It seems Twitter is beginning to put more thought into stricter rules, however. Just yesterday, the company announced it would remove images and videos of deceased individuals from the social network at the request of immediate family members or authorized individuals. The policy update came a week after Zelda Williams, daughter of entertainer Robin Williams, announced she was abandoning her Twitter account after graphic photoshopped images of her late father were sent to her on the social network.

FBI warns healthcare firms they are targeted by hackers

The FBI has warned that healthcare industry companies are being targeted by hackers, publicizing the issue following an attack on U.S. hospital group Community Health Systems Inc that resulted in the theft of millions of patient records.

“The FBI has observed malicious actors targeting healthcare related systems, perhaps for the purpose of obtaining Protected Healthcare Information (PHI) and/or Personally Identifiable Information (PII),” the agency said in a “Flash” alert obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

“These actors have also been seen targeting multiple companies in the healthcare and medical device industry typically targeting valuable intellectual property, such as medical device and equipment development data,” the one page document said.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security periodically release alerts to provide U.S. businesses with technical details and other information they can use to either prevent or identify cyber attacks. Such reports are typically only issued to businesses and not distributed to the general public.

The FBI has been concerned about healthcare providers for several months. In April, it warned the industry that its systems were lax compared with other sectors, making it vulnerable to hackers looking to access bank accounts or obtain prescriptions.

The agency has also reached out to other industries, including a warning to retailers in January alerting them to expect more credit card breaches in the wake of last year’s attack on Target Corp.

The recent alert to healthcare companies did not identify any specific victims targeted by hackers. An agency spokesman declined to comment on the document.

Community Health, the No. 2 U.S. publicly traded hospital operator, disclosed the attack on Monday, saying stolen data included patient names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers.

The healthcare company has said little about how its network was attacked.

David Kennedy, an expert in healthcare security, said he has learned the hackers broke into the company’s computer system using a piece of networking equipment that had not been patched to fix the “Heartbleed” Internet bug. The break-in was the first known large-scale cyber attack to exploit that vulnerability.

Kennedy, who is chief executive of TrustedSec LLC, said multiple people familiar with the investigation told him hackers exploited the bug in a piece of Juniper Networks Inc equipment to obtain employee credentials and access the company’s network. Once in, they hacked their way into a database containing Social Security numbers and other records.

Juniper spokeswoman Danielle Hamel declined to comment on the breach, but said her company issued patches in April to protect customers against Heartbleed.

Community Health spokeswoman Tomi Galin did not respond to requests for comment on Heartbleed.