Hackers seize Church News Twitter account

Published: Thursday, June 11 2009 12:37 p.m. MDT

Hackers hijacked the Church News Twitter account last weekend, and Twitter staffers took down the site early Thursday because the infiltrators had gained total control over the Web site.

Charlie Craine, director of interactive media for the Deseret News, said he realized Sunday night that the Church News account had been compromised.

"We tried to get it back," he said, but he soon realized that the hacker had even been able to change the password and lock him out.

"I don't know how they got the password," Craine said. "I'm very skeptical (of Twitter) now." He expressed concern for other Twitter accounts the Deseret News operates.

Craine said the hacker posted some anti-Mormon material on the site earlier this week. The Church News and Deseret News are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through Deseret Management Corp.

"It caused the Deseret News and the LDS Church concern," said Tim Conde, an attorney with Stoel Rives who represented the Deseret News in talks with Twitter officials.

The initial problem the Deseret News faced was contacting Twitter's administrators. Conde said once contact was made, Twitter agreed the hijacked account was an urgent matter.

The Church News Twitter site was suspended by about 10 a.m. Thursday.

"Twitter is anxious to get this resolved," Conde said, indicating the focus now is trying to find out who the hackers were and deal with them.

There's no indication yet when the site will be up again, but Twitter administrators said they would be contacting Church News staffers later today about restoring their account.

The Church News had operated a site on Twitter for about two months.

"It's certainly proof in this online society we all need to be careful and monitor things," Conde said. "We're glad Twitter took the matter seriously."

Other Twitter accounts have been hacked into recently, including that of the New York Times.

Unlike many online accounts, like those for Facebook, Twitter does not send a confirmation e-mail when a user changes a password, Craine said.

Those confirmations help alert a user if someone else has changed the password and seized control of the account.

E-MAIL: lynn@desnews.com

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