USA Today's Twitter account falls foul of hackers

Filed Under: Featured, Social networks, Spam, Twitter

USA TodayUSA Today is the latest high profile Twitter account to have fallen victim to a group of hackers.

A group calling themselves the Script Kiddies have claimed responsibility for the hack, which involved posting a series of messages to the official USA Today Twitter account, including:

"Fox News, Wal-mart, Unilevel, Pfizer, NBC and now USA Today. who's next? Vote now! [LINK]"

and

"Please like The Script Kiddies on Facebook! You could choose our next target!"

Fortunately, USA Today was able to regain control of the account (with some assistance from Twitter) before any serious harm could be caused. The newspaper tweeted an apology to its followers:

USA Today apologised for the hack

The Script Kiddies group has previously claimed responsibility for hacking into the NBC News Twitter account to post fake news reports of a terrorist attack involving planes in New York, defacing Pfizer's Facebook page and breaking into the Fox News Politics Twitter account to post a bogus announcement about the death of Barack Obama.

It's unclear how the USA Today Twitter account was compromised, but there was speculation that the hack by the same group against NBC News's Twitter account was assisted by a spyware Trojan horse.

The Script Kiddies might believe that their hacks against media organisations are just childish pranks, but it's unlikely that the authorities find them amusing. The more social media accounts that they target, the more the computer crime police will be keen to bring them to justice.

As always, we recommend that social networking users ensure that they keep their security software up-to-date, choose hard-to-crack passwords and do not use the same password in more than one place.

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3 Responses to USA Today's Twitter account falls foul of hackers

  1. Nigel · 1034 days ago

    How do they hack into such accounts? Stealing the password? Guessing the password by brute-force computation? Do they have an insider at Twitter? Surely Twitter must know how the account was hacked. Can't they determine the lP address (and physical location) of the computer that hacked the account?

    If my questions seem naive, I'm not surprised. I don't know how this stuff works. I'm just trying to understand how these malicious, trespassing morons can pull off these hack jobs, and how they can go undetected for so long. They can't be all that clever. If they were, they would be able to figure out that civilized people abhor vandals.

    • Internaut · 725 days ago

      The Internet is a place for many people to act out their alter egos, spread graffiti, get their 15 minutes of fame, and goof off. It's up to the reader to accept anything as being truthful, even from "reliable sources".

      Take it all with a cup of salt - a grain just isn't enough.

  2. Yayo · 1034 days ago

    Definitely support them! I love what they're doing and should not be stopped!

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.