Early Friday Evening, just two days before the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the official NBC Twitter account was hacked and used to tweet false information related to terrorist attacks. The first of several false tweets appeared at 5:48 PM (EST):
“Breaking News! Ground Zero has just been attacked. Flight 5736 has crashed in the site, suspected hijacking. More as the story develops.”
NBC’s director of social media, Ryan Osborn, was monitoring the Twitter account and noticed the false tweets within seconds. He immediately contacted Twitter who shut down the hacked NBC account only eight minutes after the first false message was tweeted. Within two hours, the NBC account was secured and restored.
Following the false tweets, NBC immediately issued an official statement:
“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. 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.”
The FBI computer crimes unit has begun an investigation and is working with NBC and Twitter to gather information. Although the FBI is not willing to discuss specifics of the case or potential suspects, a hacker group called The Script Kiddies claimed they were responsible for the attack by placing a “NBCNEWS hacked by The Script Kiddies” message on the Official NBC Twitter page.
The Script Kiddies, which is a lesser-known splinter group of the famous Anonymous hacking group, made its public hacking debut just two months ago. In July, The Script Kiddies hacked the @FoxNewsPolitics Twitter account and falsely tweeted that President Obama had been shot and killed.
Early information indicates that The Script Kiddies accessed the official NBC twitter account using a “keylogger Trojan.” This type of computer malware, which is unknowingly installed on the host computer, logs repetitive actions by computer users and allows the hackers to detect likely passwords.
The FBI is working diligently with both Twitter and NBC to investigate the matter and aid in the prosecution as necessary.