Dozens of Twitter Accounts Hacked to Display Pro-Erdogan Messages and Swastikas

Media Division | March 15, 2017

Social media is used by a massive amount of people and organizations around the world.  It is employed by both to be able to widely communicate to various others.  But as with any cyber communication, there is the potential that social media could be exploited or hacked.  In a recent cyber attack on Wednesday, a multitude of Twitter accounts were hacked and used to tweet politically oriented messages to all of their followers.

The Contents of the Twitter Messages

The hacked accounts tweeted messages featuring swastikas and hashtags stating #Nazialmanya (Nazi Germany) and Nazihollanda (Nazi Holland).  There were a variety of affected well-known accounts, including BBC, USA, UNICEF, Floyd Mayweather’s promotional account, and North America.  The messages stated “See you April 16th,” which is the day that Turkey will be holding a referendum of whether to increase President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power.  There was also another hashtag that is translated to “Ottoman slap,” which is a legendary Turkish martial arts technique, and a popular TV show.  The tweets also contained a video which displayed various speeches from Erdogan.  And finally, the tweet ends with a piece of advice from the hackers, “Learn Turkish.”

How the Attack Happened

According to a Twitter spokesperson in an email to Globe early this morning, a third party app was to blame for the hack.  They had released a statement saying that they were “aware of an issue affecting a number of account holders this morning.” Twitter furthered stated, “Our teams are working at pace and taking direct action on this issue. We quickly located the source which was limited to a third party app. We removed its permissions immediately. No additional accounts are impacted.”  According to the tech website, Gizmodo, the attack was apparently launched through a vulnerability in the third-party app, Twitter Counter, which offers analytics and statistics services.  Twitter Counter tweeted, “We’re aware that our service was hacked and have started an investigation into the matter. We’ve already taken measures to contain such abuse.”

This hack comes in the middle of a conflict between Turkey, Germany, and the Netherlands, after Turkish ministers were barred from campaigning by Dutch and German officials in parts of their respective countries.  This scenario had resulted in Erdogan stating, “Nazism is alive in the West.”  Erdogan desires support in the referendum from Turks living in European countries.  The tension has continued as Turkey denied airspace to diplomatic flights from the Netherlands, and barred the Dutch ambassador from the country on Monday.  There have been no reports of who the perpetrator of the cyber attack was, aside from it apparently being a Pro-Erdogan supporter.

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There are a large number of cyber attackers across the web constantly looking for vulnerabilities to be able to breach organizations for various malicious purposes.  Cyber security teams need to be able to remain vigilant when it comes to the status of their networks and systems.  This is where cyber security monitoring can be one of the most valuable tools that an organization can employ.  Cyber security monitoring provides IT staff or a dedicated analyst the ability to consistently know the status of the network and systems, as well as be alerted of any anomalies or indicators that arise.  This then allows the organization to trace the alerts, and immediately handle them if necessary.  Massive Alliance’s thorough cyber security monitoring can provide an organization a very important line of defense.

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