Twitter accounts of BBC hacked

March 21, 2013 at 6:41 PM
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LONDON, March 21 (UPI) -- A group backing Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad is suspected in the hacking of several BBC Twitter accounts Thursday, the broadcaster said.

The BBC said by 1:30 p.m. EDT it had regained control of the three accounts -- its weather, Arabic and Radio Ulster feeds -- and deleted all inappropriate content including fake weather conditions in the Middle East, PC Magazine reported.

"The BBC Twitter accounts which were hacked earlier today are now back under control and all inappropriate tweets have been deleted," a BBC spokeswoman said in a statement. "We apologize to our audiences that this unacceptable material appeared under the BBC's name."

The hacks began around 6 a.m. EDT when several pro-Assad messages were posted, Faris Couri, BBC Arabic's editor in chief, said.

A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for the hack that included posting tweets such as "Saudi weather station down due to head-on collision with camel," and "Chaotic weather forecast for Lebanon as the government decides to distance itself from the Milky Way."

It was unknown how the Twitter accounts were compromised, a security expert said.

"The good news is that the hack doesn't appear to have been done with the intention of spreading malicious links, or scams," Sophos security consultant Graham Cluley said. "Instead, it appears that the Syrian Electronic Army are trying to spread political messages."

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