Hackers calling themselves the Script Kiddies took control of the NBC News Twitter account on Friday afternoon and used it to send out a series of hoax Twitter messages claiming there was a repeat terrorist attack on New York's Ground Zero.
The Script Kiddies had control of the account, which has more than 120,000 followers, for about 10 minutes before it was suspended. During that time they sent three messages stating that hijackers had crashed two airplanes on the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "This is not a joke, Ground Zero has just been attacked. We're attempting to get reporters on the scene. #groundzeroattacked." said one of the messages.
Then, a minute later, perhaps sensing that the jig was up, they wrote. "NBCNEWS hacked by The Script Kiddies. Follow them at @s_kiddies!"
That s_kiddies Twitter account was immediately suspended, but according to a cached version of the page, the group describes themselves as "Anonymous Supporters :: Hackers :: Exploiting simplistic methods with hilarious results :: Occasionally doing it for teh lulz :: We are The Script Kiddies."
This type of account compromise is a regular occurrence on Twitter, although it is typically celebrities, and not trusted news organizations, that fall victim. Often the accounts are taken over following a phishing attack. Script Kiddies did not respond to an email asking them how they managed to take over the NBC News account.
Script kiddies is a hacking term, referring to technically unsophisticated hackers who rely on automated scripts rather than hacking wiles to conduct their online attacks.
Friday wasn't exactly a gold star day for accuracy on Twitter. Earlier in the day, an account associated with CBS News show "What's Trending" erroneously posted a Twitter message citing rumors that Apple founder Steve Jobs had died. That message was quickly deleted and "What's Trending" apologized.