The Twitter accounts of America’s National Football League (NFL) and 15 of its teams have been hacked just one week before the biggest football game of the 2019–2020 season.
The first team to be compromised was the Chicago Bears, whose account @ChicagoBears was hacked at 8:40 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Followers were shown an image of a man with a full, dark beard who was wearing the traditional Arabic head gear of a keffiyeh and an agal together. Along with the photo, hackers posted the caption: “Welcome to our new owner @Turki_alalshikh #ProBowl #Bears100 #ChicagoBears.”
A Saudi “white hat” hacker group known as OurMine was quick to claim responsibility for the hacks, which the group said were carried out as a publicity stunt to “announce that we are back” and to “show people that everything is hackable.”
Fans of rival American football team the Detroit Lions seized the opportunity afforded by the Bears hack to propose a trade. The account @PrideofDetroit tweeted at the Bears: “Hey, while you’re still hacked @ChicagoBears, trade us Khalil Mack for a 6th rounder. Twitter is a binding contract.”
The hackers decided to run with the joke and responded with “Done for 1$.”
By 12:43 p.m. on Sunday, the Chicago Bears were back in control of their Twitter account and had posted a message apologizing to fans for the compromise.
OurMine allegedly compromised the official Twitter account of the NFL on Monday. In a statement released yesterday, the NFL said: “On Monday, the NFL Cybersecurity department became aware of a breach of league-related social media accounts. Targeted breaches and additional failed attempts were discovered across the league and team accounts.
“The NFL took immediate action and directed the teams to secure their social media accounts and prevent further unauthorized access.”
NFL reporter Dov Kleiman began a Twitter thread of screenshots depicting all the NFL team accounts compromised in the OurMine hack. By his reckoning, a total of 15 teams were hacked, including the Green Bay Packers
Other teams to be hacked were the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, who are due to compete on February 2 in the Super Bowl LIV game, which will decide the champion for the NFL’s 2019–2020 (and 100th) season.
An anonymous individual who responded to questions from NBC News via an email account linked with OurMine would not reveal how the group carried out the hack. The individual did, however, reveal their pick for Sunday’s big game, predicting a victory for the Chiefs.
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