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PM Modi’s Twitter account linked to personal site hacked, restored | India News

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NEW DELHI: The global Twitter celebrity hack hit India as an account linked to PM Narendra Modi’s personal website was crashed into with cyber criminals seeking donations in cryptocurrency for Covid-19 relief. While the account was restored soon, it is understood that India’s top cybersecurity nodal agency, CERT-In is now looking into the matter and has sought explanations from Twitter, sources told TOI.
On its part, Twitter said that it is investigating the matter while assuring that it is “not aware of additional accounts being impacted”.
Interestingly, the government had served a notice on Twitter in mid-July too after the global hack as the IT ministry tried to find out whether there was any breach in India as well at that point in time. In the present incident, the verified Twitter account of PM Modi’s personal website @narendramodi_in was hacked in the wee hours of Thursday as the gate-crashers sought funds. “I appeal to you all to donate generously to PM National Relief Fund for Covid-19. Now India begins with cryptocurrency. Kindly donate bitcoins to (bitcoin wallet address),” the hackers tweeted from the verified handle around 3.15am. The account, which has over 2.5 million followers, has so far posted 37,000 tweets since it was created in May 2011. The account though was restored within an hour and the malicious tweets deleted.
Modi functions through two more verified Twitter handles: @PMOIndia (38.4 mn followers) and @narendramodi (61.8 mn followers).
“We’re aware of this activity and have taken steps to secure the compromised account. We are actively investigating the situation,” a Twitter spokesperson said, adding that it is not clear whether any other accounts have also been compromised. “At this time, we are not aware of additional accounts being impacted.”
The company claims that as per its investigation, the hack was “not due to a compromise of Twitter’s systems or service”, ruling out any possible link with the July celebrity hack incidents. “There is no indication or evidence of any correlation between this account compromise and the incident that took place in July,” Twitter said.
In the July incidents, cyber attackers had hacked into the Twitter accounts of famous western personalities such as former US President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as well as corporate such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It was purportedly linked to a Bitcoin scam, and the incident had also seen CERT-In step in as it sought explanations from the company on any possible attacks in India.
In an email, the hackers claimed that they are based in Korea and had hacked the PM’s website account to “clear their name” from an earlier data breach incident. The hackers, whom TOI contacted, did not specify North or South Korea.
The hackers had identified themselves as “John Wick” and posted another tweet. “Yes this account is hacked by John Wick ([email protected]), We have not hacked Paytm Mall,” they said in a tweet, posted around 3.16am. John Wick is a Hollywood vigilante action thriller franchise with actor Keanu Reeves playing the title role.
The hackers, whose name was earlier linked to a data breach in Paytm Mall app, said they wanted to “send a message” that they had not hacked the Paytm Mall database. “There is no other intention to hack this account. Recently fake news of our name saying paytm mall hacked by us, So we have sent email to all news publishers in India it’s not us, (and) no one replied, so we decided to post something (sic),” they wrote.
Although the hackers did not respond to questions on how they carried out the hack, they said they “exploited a bug in the PM’s website” to gain access to his website’s verified Twitter handle. “That was fun, we know zero guys pay from India,” they replied when asked if they received Bitcoins to their wallet.

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