Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter account was hacked and restored, Twitter said it had investigated the matter and that it appeared that the account “was not compromised due to any breach of Twitter’s systems”.
Responding to queries sent by The Indian Express, a spokesperson for the company said that Twitter had “24X7 open lines of communication with the PM’s Office”, and that “necessary steps to secure the compromised account” were taken as soon as the platform was informed about it.
“We have 24X7 open lines of communication with the PM’s Office and our teams took necessary steps to secure the compromised account as soon as we became aware of this activity. Our investigation has revealed that there are no signs of any other impacted accounts at this time,” a spokesperson for the company said.
The Twitter handle of PM @narendramodi was very briefly compromised. The matter was escalated to Twitter and the account has been immediately secured.
In the brief period that the account was compromised, any Tweet shared must be ignored.
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) December 11, 2021
Twitter, however, did not respond to further queries seeking to know the time at which Modi’s account was hacked and when they were informed about the same, the time taken to bring down the errant tweet, or whether the platform employs an additional level of security standards for public accounts of importance, such as those of political leaders, governments heads and others.
Meanwhile, sources at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that the Indian Computer Emergency Response System (Cert-In) would launch a “full-scale investigation headed by a senior official” and will submit its report to the ministry soon.
On December 12, at 2:11 am, Modi’s Twitter account put out a tweet saying India had officially adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender, and that the government had bought 500 bitcoins, which it was “distributing” to all residents of the country. The said tweet also had a link to a blog, which a postscript which said “The future has come today”.
Good Morning Modi ji,
Sab Changa Si?
— Srinivas BV (@srinivasiyc) December 11, 2021
Nearly an hour later, another Tweet from the official handle of the Prime Minister’s Office said that the prime minister’s twitter handle was “very briefly compromised” and that the matter had been raised with Twitter.
The Twitter handle of PM @narendramodi was very briefly compromised. The matter was escalated to Twitter and the account has been immediately secured. In the brief period that the account was compromised, any Tweet shared must be ignored,” the tweet from PMO said.
This is the second time in less than two years that Modi’s account has been hacked and tweets with links to cryptocurrency have been shared. In September 2020, the twitter account linked to the prime minister’s personal website and app had sent out Tweets asking for donations to the Prime Minister’s Covid relief fund through cryptocurrency.
In July last year, the Twitter accounts of former president of the US Barack Obama, former vice-president and present president of the US Joe Biden, singer and rapper Kanye West, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Tesla chief Elon Musk sent out the same tweets which said that if people sent bitcoins on a certain link, these people would double their money.
Though these tweets were removed, some of the accounts that were then compromised sent out these tweets again just hours later. Twitter had, following the mass breach, said that several of its employees who had access to internal systems had their accounts compromised in a “coordinated social engineering attack,” which resulted in the hack.