US nuclear command agency’s gibberish tweet was sent by a child

US  nuclear command agency's gibberish tweet was sent by a child


What in heaven’s name is that?

A password perhaps? A secret code?

When an unintelligible tweet like that was made by the US Strategic Command’s Twitter account (@US_Stratcom) at the weekend, it’s understandable that some folks might imagine a password was accidentally published to the world, or that perhaps the account had been compromised, or… gulp!… that it might be a US nuclear launch code.

Well, calm yourself down.

Mikael Thalen of Daily Dot promptly filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, in an attempt to get to the bottom of the mysterious tweet.

Impressively, US Strategic Command replied within a matter of hours:

“The explanation of the tweet is as follows: The Command’s Twitter manager, while in a telework status, momentarily left the Command’s Twitter account open and unattended. His very young child took advantage of the situation and started playing with the keys and unfortunately, and unknowingly, posted the tweet. Absolutely nothing nefarious occurred, i.e., no hacking of our Twitter account. The post was discovered and notice to delete it occurred telephonically.”

You might be alarmed that a temporary hijacking of the US Strategic Command’s official Twitter might be such literal child’s play, but with so many people working from home during the pandemic this surely isn’t the only instance of an account being (briefly) kidnapped.

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Maybe this incident can be best chalked up as a reminder for all of us to lock our PCs when we step away from our desk – at home as well as at work. And maybe Twitter should offer some accounts the ability to only publish a tweet once it has been approved by another user – just to avoid unauthorised tweeting like this?

Now, if it was only so easy to explain “Covfefe”

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

6 comments on “US nuclear command agency’s gibberish tweet was sent by a child”

  1. J Uhlik

    Why in the world would you believe the command's twitter manager would even have a nuclear launch code? Oh, you were just kidding, right?

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to J Uhlik

      There were people on Twitter who either joked or feared (it's unclear, but I would lean towards a joke) that it might be a launch code.

      And no, to be clear, I didn't believe it was likely to be a launch code!

      1. j uhlik · in reply to Graham Cluley

        Good. Because this is how rumors start that eventually morph into an urban legend. “Nuclear launch code revealed on twitter”, or some such nonsense. And then they’ll point to you as the source.

        1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to j uhlik

          Well, that would be pretty silly because I clearly didn't claim that's what had happened.

          There were plenty of folks joking on Twitter before I wrote my article that it could have been nuclear codes.

          For instance,

    2. Sonny Bono · in reply to J Uhlik

      No, Cluley wasn't kidding. That is his "shtick". You know, getting eyeballs and clicks. Kinda like his stupid reference to "Covfefe". An obvious snark about Trump years after the fact. What was the point of that reference, Cluley? Still unhappy that Trump's Warp Speed efforts at a vaccination benefitted the UK as well as the US?

      Dare ya to post this.

      1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to Sonny Bono

        Hi Sonny

        I was using "Covfefe" as an example of an occasion when someone posted gobbledygook from their Twitter account. I can't think of a higher profile example than the Covfefe incident, but if you have one please share with the rest of the class so we can all enjoy it.

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