The Associated Press' @AP twitter account was taken offline on Tuesday after the account was hacked and a false message was tweeted out that read: "Breaking: Two explosions in the White House and Obama is injured."
The AP immediately released a statement, saying “The (at)AP twitter account has been hacked. The tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible.”
The White House confirmed there were no explosions and that President Obama, of course, was uninjured.
“The president is fine,” said press secretary Jay Carney. “I was just with him.”
Due to the potency and lightning speed of the social media outlet, however, the news spread quickly, causing a sharp decline of the Dow Jones, which dropped 150 points in the immediate aftermath of the bogus message. The S&P also responded to the fake news with a dip in numbers. Both stock indexes were said to have quickly rebounded.
The New York Times reports:
The A.P. typically uses Social Flow, a social media tool, to distribute tweets. But in this case, the attackers posted directly from the Web, according to the meta data associated with the tweet.
In the past few days, The A.P. discovered that malware had infected some of its company computers, according to a spokeswoman. Hackers can use malware to gain a foothold inside a company’s computer network and from there, can gain access to a company’s usernames and passwords to e-mail, administrative and social media accounts.
Shortly after the account was suspended, Mike Baker, a reporter for the news organization, posted a message saying that the attack may have originated with a spear-phishing campaign, in which attackers send a cleverly disguised e-mail from a friend, or work contact, that contains a malicious link or attachment.
Through a Twitter account, a group called the Syrian Electronic Army took credit for the attack.
— SyrianElectronicArmy (@Official_SEA6) April 23, 2013
That Twitter account is linked to the Web site Syrianelectronicarmy.com, a Syrian language Web site that broadcasts what the group says are its latest cyberattacks. Even as the Twitter accounts for @AP and @AP_Mobile were suspended Tuesday afternoon, the account for the Syrian Electronic Army was still live.
Twitter users continued to track the aftermath: