UPDATE: Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Network was caught sleeping on Independence day after unknown assailants compromised its @FoxNewsPolitics Twitter account early Monday and sent a string of messages claiming U.S. President Barack Obama had been shot and killed – a macabre display on the U.S.’s Independence Day.
The erroneous tweets appeared just after 02:00 Eastern Time in the U.S. and remained up more than six hours later, without any correction from the Network. The lapse raised questions about whether Fox had lost control of the Twitter account, or was merely caught napping on Federal holiday. By noon Eastern Time, Fox News had removed the tweets and posted its own story covering the incident.
The first erroneous message was posted at around 03:00 and read “@BarackObama has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July, indeed. President Barack Obama is dead.” Subsequent tweets posted minutes later added some details. One claimed that the President was shot at Ross’ Restaurant in Iowa. Another wished Vice President Joe Biden “best of luck as the new President.” It was unclear whether Fox had regained access to the Twitter account Monday morning, as the tweets remained posted and no correction had been issued as of 09:00 Eastern Time.
A source with knowledge of the incident who asked not to be named said that Fox was aware of the account takeover immediately but, in the wake of the hack, the news network struggled to get Twitter to remove the offending messages or post a correction. Twitter did not respond to request for comment from Threatpost.
Jeff Misenti, vice president and general manager of Fox News
Digital, said in an e-mail statement, that FoxNews.com was working with Twitter to address the situation. In his statement, Misenti said that Fox would be investigating the incident.
“We will be requesting a detailed investigation from
Twitter about how this occurred, and measures to prevent future unauthorized
access into FoxNews.com accounts,” Misenti said.
The source of the compromise is not known. A Twitter account with the handle @thescriptkiddie initially posted word of the hack. That account had been suspended early Monday.
Twitter attacks are not new. A cross site scripting vulnerability that was introduced to Twitter following a platform update in September resulted in the swift compromise of more than 500,000 accounts. Twitter account takeovers of celebrities like Ashton Kutcher have been common – many stemming from insecure HTTP sessions that were sniffed.