Hackers hijack Twitter page of NBC News, post fake terror alerts

September 10th, 2011 - 6:02 am ICT by BNO News  

NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) — Hackers on late Friday afternoon hijacked an account belonging to NBC News on the social networking website Twitter and posted fake news alerts about a terrorist attack in New York City.

The false messages on the verified Twitter account of NBC News started coming in at around 5.45 p.m. Eastern time. “Breaking News! Ground Zero has just been attacked. Flight 5736 has crashed into the site, suspected hijacking. more as the story develops,” the first tweet read.

Although some users were confused by the message and unsure if it was real, word quickly spread that the account had been hacked and that its messages were made up. “Flight 4782 is not responding, suspected hijacking. One plane just hit Ground Zero site at 5:47. #groundzeroattacked,” a second tweet read, just several minutes after the first message.

A third tweet told followers of the NBC News account that the previous messages were no joke, and that NBC News was attempting to get reporters on the scene. A fourth and final message informed readers that the account had been hacked. “NBCNEWS hacked by The Script Kiddies,” the fourth tweet said, minutes before the account was suspended by Twitter.

In a statement, NBC News apologized for the incident. “The NBC News twitter account was hacked late this afternoon and as a result, false reports of a plane attack on ground zero were sent to @NBCNews followers,” the network said. “We are working with Twitter to correct the situation and sincerely apologize for the scare that could have been caused by such a reckless and irresponsible act.”

In July, hackers also calling themselves ‘The Script Kiddies’ took over the account of Fox News Politics (@foxnewspolitics). “Fox News Politics [has been] hacked by The Script Kiddies! More embarrassment for Fox News is [imminent],” the first message said.

Several other tweets followed soon after, some of them promising ‘future releases’ and pledging support to hacking group Anonymous. “TheScriptKiddies would love to assist with #antisec (Anti-Security) in anyway you need assistance,” one post, directed at a Twitter account representing Anonymous, said.

But the person or people behind The Script Kiddies appeared to change their approach after opening a discussion on 4chan, a website which is also popular with supporters of Anonymous. “Hey /b/. Ask someone who hack[ed] Fox News an hour ago anything,” the message on 4chan said.

One of the users on 4chan pointed out that their postings would have made a bigger impact if ‘The Script Kiddies’ had posted a fake news story, instead of simply stating that the account had been hacked. “I was moving too quick, I wanted my group to get media attention, rather than Fox getting negative attention,” a reply from ‘The Script Kiddies’ said.

Minutes later, the Fox News Twitter account posted an update that it had regained full access to its Twitter account and email. “Just regained full access to our Twitter an email. Happy 4th,” the update said in an apparent attempt to make users believe its future updates would be actual news from Fox News.

As previous messages which indicated that the account was hacked were deleted, @foxnewspolitics began tweeting about a fake attack on U.S. President Barack Obama. “President @BarackObama shot at in Iowa restaurant, no word yet on his condition. 2 bullets hit, sources say,” the message said.

Follow-up messages said Obama had been hospitalized at Audobon County Memorial Hospital in Audubon, Iowa in a critical condition. Updates later appeared saying Obama had passed away on early Monday morning, which is also Independence Day, or Fourth of July.

“BREAKING NEWS: President @BarackObama assassinated, 2 gunshot wounds have proved too much. It’s a sad 4th for #america. #obamadead RIP,” one of the messages said.

In an interview with Think Magazine in July, a person representing The Script Kiddies said two of its members were members of Anonymous. “We hope to be working with them soon,” the representative told Think Magazine.

Asked why it hijacked the Twitter account of Fox News he or she said: “We are looking to find information about corporations to assist with antisec. Fox News was selected because we figured their security would be just as much of a joke as their reporting.”

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