The Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked earlier today and used to distribute a tweet claiming explosions at the White House had injured President Barack Obama. The account was suspended by Twitter shortly after the tweet was sent out.
The publication’s White House correspondent Julie Pace confirmed the account was hacked while press secretary Jay Carney verified that the president was safe and sound. The false news, however, sent strong shockwaves across social media sites as well as the stock market.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 150 points as news of the “attack” spread on Twitter, showing just how connected people are with the microblogging platform. Once it became clear that nothing had actually happened at the White House, the market almost immediately recouped its losses.
A spokesperson for the publication noted that the Associated Press had found malware installed on some company computers over the past couple of days which may have allowed hackers to steal the company’s Twitter login credentials.
A follow-up message from AP reporter Mike Baker said the attack might have originated from a spear phishing campaign. This is similar to a traditional e-mail phishing attempt with the exception that it appears to come from someone within the recipient’s company or a close friend.
A group called the Syrian Electronic Army has claimed credit for the attack although it’s unclear at this hour if they are actually the ones responsible for the erroneous tweet.