On Thursday, September 3, the Twitter account of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal website was hacked. The group, identifying itself as “John Wick”, posted a series of tweets asking Modi’s 2.5 million followers to make donations to the National Relief Fund, a national fund to provide relief to disaster victims, using cryptocurrency.
The hackers also posted a tweet saying, “Yes, this account is hacked by John Wick (firstname.lastname@example.org). We have not hacked Paytm Mall,” which points to a group of hackers working together.
The tweets have now been taken down, with Twitter saying it will look into the matter.
“We’re aware of this activity and have taken steps to secure the compromised account,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. “We are actively investigating the situation. At this time, we are not aware of additional accounts being impacted.”
The Twitter account @narendramodi_in, which is used by the Prime Minister to provide updates on speeches and radio programmes like “Mann ki Baat”, has now been restored.
This comes just two months after hackers accessed the Twitter accounts of 130 high-profile users, including U.S. Presidential candidate Joe Biden, former U.S. President Barack Obama, rapper and U.S. Presidential candidate Kanye West, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. The hacking scam is similar to the one that took place in July in that it used these personalities’ Twitter accounts to ask for cryptocurrency donations.
In July, hackers had accessed these profiles using Twitter’s internal systems. Twitter claims that the hacking of Modi’s account is not related to the incident in July, and was not due to any breach of its systems or service.
In a blog posted by Twitter on July 30, the tech company admitted that the hackers used credentials of some employees to access the social media network’s internal systems, and gain information about its processes. The hackers managed to access 130 accounts, tweeted from 45, accessed the DM inbox of 36, and downloaded Twitter data of 7 accounts. A 17-year old hacker was arrested in connection with the massive hack.
The hackers used the code name John Wick, the movie character played by Keanu Reeves, on September 2, the same day as the actor’s birthday.
On August 30, the cybersecurity firm Cyble had said that John Wick was responsible for a data breach at Paytm Mall, the e-commerce unit of digital wallet Paytm. However, while hacking PM Modi’s account, John Wick clarified that they did not hack Paytm Mall. Paytm Mall announced that they had found no evidence of a security lapse.
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