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Flip side to Burger King Twitter hack: Many new followers

Burger King gained at least 60,000 followers after its account was taken over

By Jeremy Kirk
February 18, 2013 11:33 PM ET

IDG News Service - Burger King saw a surprising upside after its Twitter account was compromised on Monday: tens of thousands of people began following its account.

Those people may have started following the burger chain's feed in hopes of seeing more bizarre and profane messages. But by Monday evening, the company tweeted: "Interesting day here at Burger King, but we're back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around!"

Burger King's followers, which numbered around 50,000 as of Monday evening, shot up to more than 110,000. Company officials could not immediately be reached.

It was unclear who was responsible for the hack. Much of Twitter's business plans revolve around making its platform attractive to companies to reach out to users.

But Monday's hack showed how quickly outreach can turn into embarrassment. At one point, Burger King's profile message read that the company was just sold to McDonald's because the Whopper flopped, referring to Burger King's flagship sandwich.

Shortly after Burger King's account was taken over, McDonald's tweeted: "We empathize with our @BurgerKing counterparts. Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking."

Earlier this month, Twitter said its servers were breached by "extremely sophisticated" hackers who may have made off with user names and passwords for about 250,000 users. It was not evident if that attack contributed to Burger King's problems. Twitter officials could not immediately be reached.

As with many online services, Twitter is accessed with a username and password, which can be obtained by hackers if a person's computer is infected with malicious software.

Companies including Google and PayPal offer so-called two-factor authentication, which often involves entering a numerical passcode along with a username and password. The passcode expires after a short time and presents a higher barrier for hackers.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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