Taylor Swift's Twitter and Instagram accounts appeared to have been briefly hacked today. The singer admitted to the Twitter hacking in a post on her official Tumblr, writing "My Twitter got hacked but don't worry, Twitter is deleting the hacker tweets and locking my account until they can figure out how this happened and get me new passwords. Never a dull moment."
Shortly afterward, she added another update confirming the Instagram hack. "Now instagram. This is going to be a long day."
Several tweets posted shortly after noon encouraged the singer's 51.4 million followers to follow the accounts @veriuser and @lizzard, before being quickly deleted. Swift's Instagram account also appeared to have been briefly hijacked, according to screenshots posted by her followers.
The @veriuser account was quickly suspended on Twitter, but before that, it was nearly blank. Meanwhile, @lizzard claimed improbably to be the leader of a number of prominent hacker groups, including "Lizard Squad, LulzSec, Anonymous, UGNazi, ISISGang, GoP, globalHell, stc, zf0, htp, el8, GoD." That account has also now been suspended after tweeting a request for Bitcoin payments in exchange for leaking Swift's nude photos.
The @lizzard account has been active since late December, repeatedly posted links to news stories on the hacking incidents for which Lizard Squad has taken credit, as well as articles by security researcher Brian Krebs describing the methods apparently used by the hacker group, including using malware to hack the wireless routers of universities, companies, and individual homeowners. Krebs traced the malware back to a website hosted in Bosnia that offers botnet attacks for hire.
Lizard Squad has gained notoriety in recent months for claiming to have downed several gaming networks, including Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's XBox Live, as well as for hacking the emails of Malaysian Airlines. Internet vigilantes have tried to identify the hacker crew unsuccessfully.
Lizard Squad also claimed credit for a recent Facebook and Instagram outage, though Facebook has denied any involvement by outside attackers.
Even after the hacked tweets and Instagram content were deleted, the person behind @Lizzard continued to taunt Swift. "Will post taylor swift's nudes when this btc wallet hits 3btc," the user tweeted, linking to a Bitcoin wallet where people could send donations.
The threat to release Taylor Swift's private photos comes months after "Celebgate," the August 2014 incident when still-unidentified hackers obtained and published nude digital photos of numerous female celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton.
There is no evidence that the hacker gained access to any of Swift's personal information beyond the Twitter and Instagram access at this time. Swift denied the existence of any photos. "PS any hackers saying they have 'nudes'? Psssh you'd love that wouldn't you!" she wrote once she regained access to her Twitter account. "Have fun photoshopping cause you got NOTHING."
We reached out to Instagram and Twitter and will update if we hear back.