The account of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter has been hacked: Here’s everything you need to know
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter was “very briefly infiltrated,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). When the issue was identified, it was reported to Twitter, and the Twitter handle @narendramodi was obtained just after that.
PMO India also told everyone to discard any tweets published during the brief period when it was hacked into a tweet. Hackers had disseminated a Bitcoin link, and this situation was taken to Twitter. Modi’s personal Twitter, which has over 73 million followers, had been hacked for an unknown amount of time.
What exactly hacking means?
Hacking is defined as the act of corrupting digital devices and networks by gaining unauthorised access to a computer system. Although hacking is not always a harmful act, it is frequently associated with cybercriminals’ illicit conduct and data theft.
Hacking is the unauthorised use of computers, smartphones, tablets, and networks to harm or destroy systems, collect information on users, steal data and documents, or disrupt data-related activity.
The typical image is a lone rogue programmer who is highly competent in coding and changing computer software and hardware systems. However, this limited perspective fails to capture the whole technical nature of hacking. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated, employing stealthy attack techniques that cybersecurity software and IT professionals go unreported. They’re experts at concocting attack vectors that persuade users to open malicious attachments or click on dangerous websites, thereby opening sensitive personal information.
As a result, modern-day hacking requires more than an enraged teenager in their room. It’s a multibillion-dollar business with highly complex and effective methods.
It initially arose in the 1970s, but it grew in popularity during the next decade. In a 1980 issue of Psychology Today, an article titled “The Hacker Papers” explored the addictive aspect of computer use. Two years later, two films, Tron and WarGames, were produced. The protagonists attempted to hack into computer networks, bringing the concept of hacking to a broader public and highlighting a potential national security threat.
Later that year, the young people started large computer networks, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, Security Pacific Bank, and Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The word “hacker” was first used in a Newsweek piece documenting the event in the pejorative context.
Of course, the concept of hacking has grown exponentially since the public internet was launched, resulting in many more opportunities and financial rewards for hacking. This saw techniques evolve, increase sophistication, and lead to many hacking and hackers.
What happened with the Honourable Prime Minister?
Hackers sent out a tweet from the Prime Minister’s Twitter, which has over 73.4 million followers, saying that India had “formally recognised bitcoin as legal cash.” “The government has officially acquired 500 BTC and is distributing them to all residents of the country,” the Tweet stated, sharing a link and urging people to “hurry up.”
At 03:18 a.m., the PM’s official Twitter account (@PMOIndia) gave out the first formal information related to the breach: “The Prime Minister’s Twitter, @narendramodi, was momentarily hacked. As word of the violation spread, hashtags like #hacked began to spread on Twitter.
“Our lines of communication with the PM’s Office are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and our teams took the appropriate actions to secure the compromised account as soon as we became aware of the behaviour. Our investigation has determined that no other accounts have been compromised at this time.”
“It seems that the twitter was not compromised due to any breach of Twitter’s systems,” Twitter said after conducting internal checks into the situation. On the other hand, top government officials have launched an inquiry into the hack, with the country’s cybersecurity nodal agency, CERT-In, joining the fray.
Sources told TOI that officials from the cyber security branch and other agencies have sought information from Twitter and looked into probable hacking syndicates and organisations that function as separate entities or originate from nations hostile to India’s interests.
The verified Twitter account of Modi’s website @narendramodi was hacked (again in the early hours) on September 3 last year, as gate-crashers demanded contributions in the name of Covid-19 relief efforts, however through bitcoins.
“I implore you to make a significant donation to the PM National Relief Fund for Covid-19.” India is now experimenting with cryptocurrencies. “Kindly contribute bitcoins to (bitcoin wallet address),” the hackers tweeted about 3.15 a.m. from the verified handle. The account was quickly reinstated, and the malicious tweets were removed.
The hackers, who had claimed to be ‘John Wick’ (a Hollywood vigilante action thriller franchise starring actor Keanu Reeves), then stated in an email that they were based in Korea and had hacked the PM’s online account to “clean their name” from a previous data breach issue.
Even at the time, Twitter stated that the incident was unrelated to any security breach on its end and that there was no link to a global celebrity hack in July of last year.
Cyber attackers hacked into the Twitter accounts of well-known western figures such as former US President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, and corporations such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the July attacks. It was allegedly tied to a Bitcoin fraud, and the event prompted CERT-In to intervene, asking the firm for clarification on any possible attacks in India.
What happened at 2 a.m. on Sunday when ‘Modi’s tweet approved bitcoin’? Experts have made some educated assumptions-
A “full-scale inquiry” has also been begun by the national cybersecurity agency Computer Emergency Response System (Cert-In) to determine how the attack occurred.
However, according to Twitter, the PM’s account was not hacked due to a security vulnerability on the social media network.
A Twitter spokesman told ThePrint through email that “Our teams took appropriate steps to secure the compromised account as soon as we became aware of this conduct.” “At this time, our review has discovered no signs of any further impacted accounts.”
Last year, when numerous high-profile accounts were hijacked in a crypto fraud, Twitter claimed responsibility.
While government officials are not ruling out a security mistake on Twitter’s part in this case, experts told ThePrint that the PM’s account might have been hacked for more mundane reasons, such as a lack of two-factor authentication. According to Twitter’s standards, the causes of such incidents might range from malware or a virus to sharing the login and password with a dangerous third-party website.
What if it wasn’t a Twitter security flaw?
PM Modi’s account would have been compromised “unlikely” if two-factor authentication had been activated, according to Debayan Gupta, assistant professor of computer science at Ashoka University, Sonepat.
He also told ThePrint that an “air-gapped device” should be utilised for such a sensitive account, which means the device should only be used for Twitter and not for visiting other websites, making it more difficult for the platform to be hacked.
Twitter also warns that it could be hacked if you share your username and password with a “malicious third-party application or website.” It says that giving personal information to third parties who promise to “get you followers, make you money, or verify you” should be avoided at all costs.
According to the microblogging site, computers may also occur due to spyware and viruses on the device or a weak password that is easy to guess.
Twitter suggests creating a strong password that isn’t used anywhere else and enabling two-factor authentication, which requires a security code in addition to a password to log in. Another viable option is the use of security keys.
Only 2.3 per cent of active users reported utilising at least one kind of two-factor authentication between June and December 2020, according to a transparency report provided by Twitter in July this year.
When Twitter finally admitted their mistake-
In July 2020, the Twitter of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, and Barack Obama were all hacked, and messages were sent out urging followers to pay bitcoin in return for a double return.
Also, Twitter admitted that the hackers called a few workers and tricked them into providing their usernames and passwords.
“A successful attack needs the attackers to gain access to both our internal network as well as specific employee credentials that granted them access to our internal support tools,” Twitter said of the hacking incident, which involved 130 accounts, “ultimately tweeting from 45, accessing the DM inbox of 36, and downloading the Twitter data of 7.”
According to Prayukth K.V., marketing head of Sectrio, Bengaluru-based telecom analytics firm Subex’s cybersecurity branch, the PM’s compromised twitter is comparable to the 2020 event.
“The hackers are sending a message to the government that
a) we will attack at will and
b) legislation will not be able to ban cryptocurrency…
“This is a way for hackers to raise bitcoin knowledge and then use the platform to defraud people,” Prayukth explained.
But, Twitter has said that a flaw in its systems did not cause the PM’s breach. When told of the situation, a top government official stated that it was too soon to rule out a security breach on Twitter’s part.
“This is the same as how other platforms have been hacked in the past.” Hackers have gained access to Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Jeff Bezos. Last year, the handle @narendramodi in was also infiltrated,” claimed the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“The hacking is being probed to discover the source of the attacks and circumstances that may have resulted the breach in Twitter’s servers, compromising the Prime Minister’s account,” the person added.
India has officially adopted bitcoin as legal tender,” tweeted India’s most-followed Twitter user and the world’s “most followed head of state” in the early hours of December 12.
A screenshot of a tweet made from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Twitter account after it was hacked.
Response from Twitter users
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s account was hacked, #Hacked became a trending topic in India.
Srinivas BV, the national chairman of the Indian Youth Congress, tweeted, “Good Morning Modi ji, Sab Changa Si?”
In an emailed response to Reuters, a Twitter official indicated that the firm took the necessary steps to protect the hacked account as soon as it became aware of the behaviour and that no other accounts were harmed at this time.
Another Twitter user informed others of the attack by tweeting this message. “Please do not click on the #PMmodi #modi account #hacked link. It’s all a farce…. PM’s account is also vulnerable. Is India’s social media free of hackers, swindlers, and foreign influence? Is Twitter’s verified security in jeopardy?”
A similar occurrence occurred in September 2020, when a series of tweets were sent out from Modi’s personal website’s Twitter handle, @narendramodi, inviting followers to donate to a relief fund using bitcoin.
Malicious tweets that had appeared on Prime Minister Modi’s Twitter account have now been removed.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma