Don’t ever believe the things you see on Twitter. Visitors to the Burger King Twitter account on Monday got more than they bargained for after hackers took over the account and rebranded it under the McDonald’s banner.
By the time Burger King’s social media team had regained control of the account a little over an hour later, the attackers had posted a series of cheeky tweets, including one claiming the chain had been sold to McDonald’s, and another that accused employees of doing drugs on the job. When it was over, Burger King staff – the real ones – cleared out the hackers’ messages and posted their own: “Interesting day here at BURGER KING®, but we’re back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around!”
For the record, the real McDonald’s restaurant chain wasn’t involved, later tweeting:
We empathize with our @burgerking counterparts. Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking.
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) February 18, 2013
Online hackings have become commonplace, an almost normal part of the online revolution. Barack Obama, Britney Spears and ex-CNN anchor Rick Sanchez have had their Twitter accounts victimized. Official accounts for Fox News and Facebook have also been taken over. It likely won’t stop anytime soon, as Twitter itself admitted earlier this month that 250,000 users may have had their user names and passwords stolen. Let the fun begin.
As amusing as it is to toss around Whopper jokes, there’s a serious side to this, as well: You don’t have to be a fast food chain or a troubled pop diva to be affected. The Average Joe may not be the juiciest target for hackers, but that doesn’t mean we’re all immune. We aren’t, and we’re just as likely to have our accounts broken into if we don’t tighten up things on the security front.
Thankfully the fixes are relatively painless. If you haven’t changed your Twitter password in a while, consider doing so now – and then consider changing is at regular intervals, such as every month or two. You may want to avoid easily guessed passwords, too. Avoid using your pet’s name, the kind of car you drive or your favourite colour, as these are some commonly guessed starting points that hackers often use.
Don’t forget to mix in upper- and lower-case letters and numbers, as well as special characters to thwart robotic password-guessing programs. And if you’re using the same password for more than one service, consider switching to unique passwords for all. Sure, it’s harder to keep track of everything, but it ensures a successful Twitter break-in doesn’t also become a successful Facebook break-in. Or worse.
Burger King says it’s investigating the breach, but so far no one’s stepped forward to claim responsibility. Wherever this ends up, there’s a bright side for the beleaguered fast food chain: they gained over 30,000 new followers in the process. Even the Hamburglar would approve.