The Atlanta Police Department was one of hundreds of corporate and government agency Twitter accounts hacked across the globe on Tuesday evening.
The attack is the result of Turkey's diplomatic feud with Germany and the Netherlands, the Associated Press said.
Dr. Humayun Zafar, a professor who teaches cyber-security at Kennesaw State University, compared the hack to "good, old-fashioned graffiti" and "political vandalism." Instead of writing on a brick wall, the hackers wrote on social media.
Zafar said the swastikas and Turkish phrases shown in the tweets made it clear the tweets didn't come from Atlanta police.
"But if it was something close to home? It's up to the various agencies to basically somehow verify and inform the folks if something is real or something is not," he said.
The hack appears to have been the result of a weakness in a third-party social media management program, Twitter Counter, which is based in the Netherlands.
An APD spokesperson said the department is taking additional steps to protect its social media accounts. APD doesn't use Twitter Counter now but it did in the past.