3 Aug 2013

The 4 Most Disastrous Twitter Account Hackings

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Twitter rose from online novelty to one of the most powerful ways companies and everyday people alike publish their thoughts to the world. Most organizations pay very close attention to what is said under their name on Twitter in order to maintain their reputation and brand image. But what happens if some tech-savvy criminals figure out a way to gain access to an offical company account? Usually, it spells disaster, even if the crime is corrected in just a few moments. 
These stories show us why it’s important to keep track of your followers. One popular public records company even advises Twitter users to background check their followers since fake Twitter accounts are on the rise.
Here are four tales of hacked Twitter accounts that resulted in disaster.

4) Burger King

Burger King’s 85,000 Twitter followers got a surprise when the account suddenly started promoting the food of rival McDonald’s, even changing the logo. One of the tweets read “We just got sold to McDonalds! Look for McDonalds in a hood near you.”
Shortly afterwards, the truth was revealed. A hacker had taken over the account, making similarly outrageous tweets for an hour until Twitter shut down the account at Burger King’s request.  McDonald’s denied any involvement in the hacking.

3) The Onion

The Onion is a satirical online newspaper whose stories are sometimes mistaken for the real thing. So most people weren’t quite sure what to make of it when their Twitter account suddenly started promoting the Syrian regime.  Was this another satirical stunt? Or had someone actually taken over the humor publication’s Twitter account?
Turns out it was the latter. In response to the article “written” by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad entitled “Hi, In The Past 2 Years, You Have Allowed Me To Kill 70,000 People”, an organization calling itself the “Syrian Electronic Army” compromised the Twitter account. After the account was restored, the website published an article entitled “Onion Twitter Password Changed To OnionMan77.”

2) Jeep

The day after Burger King’s Twitter account was compromised, Jeep suffered a similar attack. Someone took over the account and began making posts like “You'll never catch @50cent ridin in a Dirty Ass @jeep !!!! #ForDaLuLz #FreeJeep.” The tweets also promoted Cadillac, including replacing the Jeep logo with a Cadillac logo as the background image. It was suspected that a DJ from New England who goes by the name iThug was responsible.
Cadillac sent a tweet specifically denying that they had any involvement in the hacking.

1) Associated Press

The Associated Press is the most trusted name in news, providing outlets all over the country with breaking stories and extensive coverage. So when information comes from the AP’s Twitter account, the world takes it seriously.
Unfortunately, that trust was misplaced the day that a hacker Tweeted “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” Savvy Twitter followers immediately recognized it as bogus, as it didn’t follow strict AP style, but not everyone dismissed it. Stock markets reacted harshly to the bogus news, causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to plummet 100 points within seconds.


Protect Yourself

In all of these instances, big name organizations were hacked because their password was compromised. If you don’t want your social media account to suffer the same fate as these organizations, choose your password carefully, and make sure to change it often.

About the Author:
Lars Handey isa Boston area blogger.  He covers social media, crime, and internet security.

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