Popular social networking tool Twitter fell prey to a hacker attack Monday morning when several high profile accounts were compromised, including President-elect Barack Obama and CNN anchor Rick Sanchez.
The hackers then used the hacked accounts to send out bogus -- and sometimes damaging -- messages to the users' followers.
The hacks seem to have started with Fox News, when a message was posted stating "Bill O Riley is gay." (sic) Shortly after, a profane message was left on Britney Spears' Twitter page.
However, the most fervently attacked profile has been that of Rick Sanchez' who regularly incorporates his Twitter, MySpace and Facebook profiles on his afternoon show on CNN. Messages showed up on his account stating he "might not be coming in to work today" because he was "high on crack."
A later message stated, "my tv show sucks."
President-elect Obama's account was also hacked, posting a message urging followers to click on a link for a $500 gas card.
All of these attacks happened before noon EST.
In the afternoon, the account for the popular news site The Huffington Post was hacked with further messages from Sanchez.
According to Twitter's blog, 33 accounts were hacked in all and were subsequently suspended until the the account owners were contacted. Twitter acknowledged the hack, posting on its blog at about 1:30 pm, "we have identified the cause and blocked it."
The account hacks came on the heels of a weekend of phishing scam that compromised dozens, if not hundreds, of accounts. The ruse was sent in the form of a Direct Message which usually instructed users to go to a blog post written about them.
The link would redirect to a Twitter clone that collected usernames and passwords of users that tried to log in. Twitter is also urging users to change their password if they believe their account has been compromised.
Twitter allows users to connect with each other through short, 140-character messages similar to cell phone text messages. The service says it has 6 million registered users, though the number of active users is less. Similar to Facebook or MySpace, users agree to subscribe to each other's "feeds," and can follow each other's daily lives through the short notes.
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