Fox News reports Twitter hack to Secret Service

The news site's feed falsely reports that President Barack Obama was assassinated. Fox News demands an explanation, but Twitter suggests it wasn't to blame.

A Fox News Twitter feed was hacked and used to publish false items that President Barack Obama had been killed.
A Fox News Twitter feed was hacked and used to publish false items that President Obama had been killed. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Fox News has alerted the U.S. Secret Service that the cable news show's Twitter feed was used today to publish false reports that President Obama had been killed.

The attack apparently was completed about 11 p.m. PT Sunday, when a tweet appeared that said, "Just regained full access to our Twitter and email. Happy 4th."

Shortly afterward came the first of several Obama-related tweets: "@BarackObama has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July, indeed. President Barack Obama is dead."

The tweets were still live on the Twitter Web site more than nine hours after being posted. The attack was on a verified Twitter account, one that Twitter has verified to belong to a specific person or organization.

Fox News said it alerted the Secret Service, the organization responsible for the president's physical safety. Fox News also is holding Twitter's feet to the fire.

"We will be requesting a detailed investigation from Twitter about how this occurred and measures to prevent future unauthorized access into FoxNews.com accounts," Jeff Misenti, vice president and general manager of Fox News Digital, said in the story.

It's possible, though, that Twitter wasn't responsible. For example, an attacker could have acquired a password by breaching Fox News itself, then simply logged on.

Twitter declined to comment beyond sharing its generic advice for keeping Twitter accounts secure.

A further statement from Twitter, though, indicated that the blame lay at Fox's own feet.

While Twitter does monitor accounts for brute-force login attempts and similar methods of attack, we're unable to anticipate compromises that take place due to offsite behavior.

Generally speaking, we suggest using an e-mail address associated with your domain or, if you do not have one, using two-factor authentication or being aware of best practices around password security in order to prevent attacks.

We've heard from Fox News that they have identified the offsite vector that led to the compromise, and would encourage follow-up with them about the details of how that compromise took place.

A group called Script Kiddies claimed responsibility, the BBC reported, but its account has been disabled.

The move is one of a rash of online attacks in recent weeks.

Updated 8:55 a.m. PT and 2:44 p.m. PT with comment, then further comment, from Twitter.

A Fox News Twitter feed was hacked and used to publish false items that President Barack Obama had been killed.
A Fox News Twitter feed was hacked and used to publish false items that President Barack Obama had been killed. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET
 

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