The FBI said on Tuesday evening that it is investigating how hackers broke into the Associated Press's Twitter account. FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said that a case had been opened, but would not elaborate further.
Earlier on Tuesday a false tweet appeared shortly after 1 p.m., stating that there had been two explosions at the White House, and that President Obama was injured. However the explosions did not take place, and White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that the President was doing well.
"I was just with him," Carney said in a news briefing.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also said that an investigation is currently underway. After the bogus tweet went public, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 143 points, from 14,679 to 14,554. The drop was reportedly only brief, as the industrial average recovered shortly thereafter.
Associated Press spokesman Paul Colford said that all Twitter accounts (desktop, mobile) have been disabled following the attack, and that the company is working closely with Twitter to investigate the issue. Colford also added that the hack follows a number of phishing attempts on the AP's corporate network.
That may explain how hackers gained access to the AP's Twitter accounts. Using this method, attackers typically pose as legitimate companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, in an attempt to siphon login credentials from anyone with access to the accounts. So far it's unknown how many members of the AP staff had access to the Twitter accounts prior to the attack.
Meanwhile, CBS News reports that its "60 Minutes" and "48 Hours" Twitter accounts were compromised over the weekend, and that both accounts will remain suspended until further notice. News Corp. faced a similar issue almost two years ago when hacker broke into the FOX News political Twitter account and tweeted that Obama had been assassinated.
"After years of hacks that typically involved little more than obscene language, Twitter's subpar security measures have now caused serious real-world consequences," reports CNN Money, referring to the industrial average drop following the bogus AP tweet.
Twitter may be forced to implement a two-step security option similar to what Google and Microsoft offer, requiring the user to provide both a password and a special code generated from an authenticator app, or one sent directly to the account holder's smartphone. Wired reports that Twitter already has this system up and running, and is currently undergoing internal testing.
The Syrian Electronic Army said on Tuesday that it was responsible for the Twitter hack. It has previously taken credit for a number of Web attacks on targets that are deemed sympathetic to Syria's rebels. Included in the string of attacks is the Twitter feeds of the BBC and Al-Jazeera English.