Fake AP tweet reports Obama attack, jolts stocks

phishing email precedes latest hack of news agency; twitter accounts suspended

Los Angeles TimesApril 24, 2013 

The Associated Press' main Twitter account was taken over Tuesday by hackers who sent out a fake tweet saying two explosions had gone off at the White House, injuring President Barack Obama.

Within minutes, the real AP used other accounts at its disposal to tweet that the attack message was bogus, and Twitter shut down the AP account.

"The (at)AP twitter account has been hacked. A tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise on acct. status," the news agency tweeted from its APStylebook account.

Twitter also suspended the news agency's AP Mobile account to prevent more false news from spreading. A message on the agency's AP Politics account said all AP Twitter accounts would be suspended until the organization could be "assured of their security." AP reporter Mike Baker said on Twitter, "The AP hack came less than an hour after some of us received an impressively disguised phishing email."

Typically, phishing is when hackers send out emails with links to pages disguised to look like the logins for services. They are used to trick users into entering their logins and passwords. Baker speculated that someone fell for the trick and the hackers used the information to access the AP account.

The fake tweet caused the Dow Jones industrial average to fall nearly 150 points in early trading, but it quickly recovered after the message was revealed as false.

The Associated Press is the latest news agency to fall prey to the hands of hackers. Over the weekend, the Twitter account of CBS' 60 Minutes was hacked, and last week, several Twitter accounts belonging to NPR were taken over.

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