Some Guardian Twitter Accounts Hacked, Likely More to Follow
The Guardian, the daily publication of record in the United Kingdom, suffered an attack on a number of its Twitter accounts over the weekend, one that seems to have originated from the same group going after a number of mainstream media publications’ Twitter accounts.
The group, the Syrian Electronic Army, has claimed responsibility for some of the latest high-profile account hacks, taking over the official Twitter handles of NPR and CBS and, most recently, sending a false tweet from the Associated Press’s Twitter account that sent U.S. stock markets into a tailspin for a few brief moments last week.
“We are aware that a number of Guardian Twitter accounts have been compromised and we are working actively to resolve this,” a Guardian spokesperson told AllThingsD.
Update 3:15 PST: Twitter has sent out e-mail notices to a number of journalists who user Twitter, urging them to take extra security measures with their accounts in light of the recent hacks. A portion of the email, obtained by AllThingsD reads as follows:
“These incidents appear to be spear phishing attacks that target your corporate email. Promoting individual awareness of these attacks within your organization and following the security guidelines below is vital to preventing abuse of your Twitter accounts.”
And also worth noting from the email:
“We believe that these attacks will continue, and that news and media organizations will continue to be high value targets to hackers.”
In this the most recent hack, the SEA tweeted out advertisements for its movement from the Guardian’s smaller, vertical-based Twitter accounts such as @GuardianBusiness and @GuardianFilm, according to the Naked Security Blog, which first noted the attack.
“Follow the Syrian Electronic Army … Follow the truth! @Official_SEA12 #SEA #Syria,” the messages read.
It is possible, as noted by Guardian staffer James Ball, that the SEA used a similar email phishing attack employed last week on members of the Associated Press, in which the hacker cohort sent out well-crafted false emails that tricked staff members into handing over their email account information.
As of mid-morning Monday, a number of the Guardian Twitter accounts had been suspended.
After the spate of recent high-profile hacking incidents — including one on Twitter itself that potentially compromised 250,000 user accounts — Twitter has come under heavy scrutiny for its security practices.
The guys doing the Guardian phishing attack I mentioned yesterday (it’s SEA) are really very good: sustained, changing, mails today.
— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) April 29, 2013
Rumors circulated that the microblogging service would eventually introduce two-factor security authentication, essentially a way of verifying a user’s identity when trying to log in to an account.
It’s worth noting, however, that these rumors floated around last time Twitter was hacked, and we haven’t seen anything yet. Surmise what you will from that.
Representatives from Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.