Q: What caused this?
A: this. A Vodafone employee used the corporate Twitter account to post the message:
[@VodafoneUK] is fed up of dirty homo’s and is going after beaver
And as the Vodafone apology attests, this was no hacking attack, instead a case of TGI Friday on the part of an employee. This goes to show that you don’t need an external attacker to ruin your corporate image if you hire the right staff.
Update: according to an article in the Register, the problem tweet was caused by an employee on a different team in the same office misusing an unlocked terminal with access to Vodafone’s Twitter account.
They have fired the employee, but no word on whether they’re reviewing their security practices. I’m reminded of the solution taken to combat safe-cracking at LANL when Richard Feynman showed how easy it was to open the safes with their confidential contents: don’t let Richard Feynman near the safes.
Update again: Vodafone’s official reply:
On Friday afternoon an employee posted an obscene message from the
official Vodafone UK Twitter profile. The employee was suspended
immediately and we have started an internal investigation. This was not
a hack and we apologise for any offence the tweet may have caused.
This sounds like there’s the potential for their practices to be altered as a result of their “internal investigation”, hopefully they’ll make more information available. It would definitely make an interesting case study on responding to real-world security issues.