News Column

Jeep Twitter Hacked: Attack Claims Sale of Brand to Cadillac

Feb. 19, 2013

Rob Manker

The official Twitter account of Jeep was hacked today, one day after a similar, highly publicized attack involving Burger King's Twitter account.

This afternoon, the Jeep logo on its Twitter account, @Jeep, was replaced with that of Cadillac, much as the Burger King logo was replaced by McDonald's for more than an hour Monday. Today's attack was much shorter, however, involved fewer tweets and was resolved more quickly.

"The official Twitter handle for the Jeep -- Just Empty Every Pocket, Sold To Cadillac," read part of the apparently fake Twitter bio for Jeep, with a link to a website announcing the "sale" of Chrysler-owned Jeep to General Motors' Cadillac. The background on the account was the same as the one on the actual @Cadillac Twitter page.

The content of the bogus @Jeep tweets was nearly identical to that of the hacked @BurgerKing tweets -- vulgar language, an accusation of drug use by a Jeep employee and a link to a video by controversial Chicago rapper Chief Keef, among other tweets.

The @Jeep attack appears to have started around 12:30 p.m., with the tweet "WELCOME BACK CADILLAC #300." The account sent 13 tweets over a 9-minute stretch before the messages stopped. By 1:25, the fake logo and header had been removed, but the offending tweets were still visible. Shortly after 1:50, the bogus messages were gone and the Jeep background normally found on the page had returned.

"We first became aware of it when the first tweet came through," Chrysler spokeswoman Eileen Wunderlich told the Tribune. "We worked very fast with Twitter folks to disable the account as soon as possible and then worked to get it back up as soon as possible."

The messages also referenced LulzSec and Anonymous, two well-known hacker collectives, though it was not immediately known who was responsible for either attack.

"We have no knowledge of that right now," Wunderlich said. "Anything else will come later, to try to have more insight into what happened."

Shortly after the attack began, the actual @Cadillac Twitter account tweeted that the company was not responsible for the hack, as McDonald's had done the day before. "Just to clarify, Cadillac is not connected to the hack of the @Jeep Twitter account," @Cadillac tweeted.

Later, in what may have been a marketing stunt, the @MTV and @BET Twitter accounts featured page headers claiming that those accounts had been hacked. Though none of the tweets resembled those of the @Jeep and @BurgerKing attacks and after the accounts' headers were restored to normal, @MTV tweeted, "We totally Catfish-ed you guys. Thanks for playing!" MTV and BET are both owned by Viacom.

In Monday's hack, the hijacked feed was live for more than an hour before Twitter shut it down at Burger King's request.

"We have worked directly with administrators to suspend the account until we are able to re-establish our legitimate site and authentic postings," Burger King said in a statement Monday afternoon. "We apologize to our fans and followers who have been receiving erroneous tweets about other members of our industry and additional inappropriate topics."

The first of more than a dozen bogus tweets came around 11 a.m.: "We just got sold to McDonalds! Look for McDonalds in a hood near you."

"We caught one of our employees in the bathroom doing this ..." read another, accompanied with a photo of someone injecting himself with a syringe.

By 12:15 p.m., the account had been suspended, but not before jokes about the hack were racing across Twitter.

"Somebody needs to tell Burgerking that 'whopper123' isn't a secure password," Twitter user @flibblesan cracked.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's took to Twitter to assure its fast-food competitor that it was not behind the attack.

"We empathize with our @BurgerKing counterparts," McDonald's said via the actual @McDonalds account. "Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking."

The account had returned to active status by 5:30 p.m., with the McDonald's logo and name gone but with the offending tweets still visible. Three hours later those tweets were removed, and by 9 p.m. the account was back to normal.

"Interesting day here at Burger King, but we're back! Welcome to our new followers," came the account's first legitimate tweet of the day, acknowledging the thousands of followers it gained during the hack. "Hope you all stick around!"

A Burger King spokesman said the company did not have confirmation of who was responsible for that attack.



Source: (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services


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