Many users of social network sites have suffered the inconvenience of a hacked account, and while it may be fairly straightforward to recover your password and regain control, further damage can be done when the hackers have access to your platform.
Tweets from your account urging us to discover a new weight loss formula may not hit the headlines—but when a high profile celebrity or organization is attacked, it’s a different story. Here are five of the most notorious hacks in the brief but colorful history of Twitter.
Even high-class organizations sometimes fall for bogus links. In April 2013, the Associated Press announced to the world via their Twitter account.
Of course, the reports were entirely fictitious, but as the story spread via countless retweets, the world began to take notice and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 150 points almost immediately. AP was quick to confirm that the Tweet had no substance, and their account was resealed—but not before the FBI were called in to investigate the issue.
As a result of those inquiries, it was revealed that an Associated Press employee simply clicked on a false link, and once the hackers gained access, they quickly took over the whole of the organization. Many have fallen foul of this simple hacking technique, but it’s unlikely that there have been any greater consequences than those suffered by AP.
Almost two years prior to the AP Hack, Fox news made their own headlines and went a stage further by declaring that the President had been assassinated. The hackers chose a poignant day – 04th July 2011 – to access the @foxnewspolitics account.
The fake post was broadcast to 33,000 followers at around 2am local time and, as with the AP news case, it received hundreds of retweets despite the early timing. After this, more “details” began to emerge about the bogus shooting.
The hackers even went as far as electing a new president with VP Joe Biden stepping in.While Fox ultimately regained control, it made no comment on the breach, and no-one has been identified as the hacking source.
Burger King vs. McDonalds
Early in 2013 we saw a spate of hacks where famous brands were pitted against each other, and in this instance, Burger King were the victims as some tricksters replaced their corporate logo with that of their biggest rival, McDonalds.
The hackers took things a stage further by urging BK fans to change their allegiance.
The breach came after Jeep were targeted in a similar fashion in February 2013, when their logo was replaced by that of a Chrysler badge. The hacker, an attacker by the name of iThug, went on to Tweet:
For the majority of online traders, Paypal is absolutely essential, but not everyone is impressed by the third party payment facility. In fact, the “Paypal sucks” website has a popularity of its own, and back in 2011 it was implicated in a notorious hack of the company’s UK arm.
The hacking group Lulzsec claimed ultimate responsibility for the attack after replacing the PayPal logo with a steaming pile of manure, alongside the message ‘All your PayPal accounts are now frozen while we clean up this mess.’
PayPal responded with an official statement assuring users that accounts were safe but not before readers had been directed back to the “PayPal sucks” site for the full story behind their concerns and allegations.
Individuals and major organizations alike are vulnerable to Twitter hacks, but somehow it’s always more newsworthy when a celebrity is targeted. The list of hackers is growing all the time, but one of the first (and certainly one of the most notorious) cases involved singer Britney Spears. Back in 2009, readers of her account may have been led to believe that she had been converted to Satanism.
Those Tweets were accompanied by a fitting background image, and while Britney has done some crazy things in her time, very few of her thousands of followers were fooled.
New Twitter Hacks are reported on a regular basis— are you concerned about your account, and do you think that the platform should be doing more to safeguard user security?
Photo Credit: Flickr/hank Mitchell