PM Modi’s personal Twitter account was hacked for a brief period early Sunday, prompting the Centre’s cyber security wing, CERT-In, to order a high-level investigation into the incident, which follows a similar breach in September last year in which an account linked to the PM’s personal website was compromised.
Hackers sent out a tweet from the Prime Minister’s Twitter account, which has over 73.4 million followers, saying that India had “formally recognized bitcoin as legal cash.” “The government has officially acquired 500 BTC and is distributing them to all residents of the country,” the Tweet stated, sharing a link and urging people to “hurry up.”
The government reacted quickly after learning of the attack, writing to Twitter to inform users of the event and requesting them to disregard the message.
At 03:18 a.m., the PM’s official Twitter account (@PMOIndia) gave out the first formal information regarding the breach: “The Twitter handle of PM @narendramodi was very briefly compromised.” The situation was taken to Twitter, where the account was instantly protected. Any Tweet shared during the brief period while the account was compromised must be ignored.”
As word of the intrusion spread, hashtags like #hacked began to emerge on Twitter.
When contacted, a Twitter official stated that the account was “protected” as soon as they were informed of the attack. “Our lines of communication with the PM’s Office are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and our teams took the appropriate actions to secure the compromised account as soon as we became aware of the behavior. Our investigation has determined that no other accounts have been compromised at this time.”
“It appears that the account was not compromised due to any breach of Twitter’s systems,” Twitter said after conducting internal checks into the situation.
Top government officials, on the other hand, have launched an investigation into the hack, with the country’s cybersecurity nodal agency, CERT-In, joining the fray.
Sources told TOI that officials from the cyber security branch and other agencies have sought information from Twitter, as well as looking into probable hacking syndicates and organizations that function as separate entities or originate from nations hostile to India’s interests.
The verified Twitter account of Modi’s personal website @narendramodi was hacked (again in the early hours) on September 3 last year, as gate-crashers demanded contributions in the name of Covid-19 relief efforts, however through bitcoins.
“I implore you to make a significant donation to the PM National Relief Fund for Covid-19. India is now experimenting with cryptocurrencies. Please provide bitcoins to (bitcoin wallet address) as soon as possible “At roughly 3.15 a.m., the hackers tweeted from the verified handle. The account was quickly reinstated, and the malicious tweets were removed.
The hackers, who had claimed to be ‘John Wick’ (a Hollywood vigilante action thriller franchise starring actor Keanu Reeves), then stated in an email that they were based in Korea and had hacked the PM’s online account to “clean their name” from a previous data breach issue.
Even at the time, Twitter stated that the incident was unrelated to any security breach on its end and that there was no link to a global celebrity hack in July of last year.
Cyber attackers hacked into the Twitter accounts of well-known western figures such as former US President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, and corporations such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the July attacks. It was allegedly tied to a Bitcoin fraud, and the event prompted CERT-In to intervene, asking the firm for clarification on any possible attacks in India.
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