USC Prof: Hacker More Prankster Than Terrorist

The first tweet started with "breaking news. Ground zero has just been attacked."

In all, three alarming tweets were sent from the NBC News Twitter account at about 2:30 PM Pacific Time. All were bogus, sent by hackers.

"I think most people see this as cyber pranksterism rather than anything else," said Professor Andrew Lih of USC.

Lih is an Associate Professor of Journalism at USC. He says the fourth and final bogus tweet, claiming NBC News had been attacked by the Script Kiddies tells you this is not cyber terrorism.

"Script Kiddies refers to pranksters more than anything else," said Lih. "They'll take scripts or programs written by true hackers and run them against services like Twitter."

Lee says 2011 has been a banner year for hackers.

"With hacking groups hitting back at banks or folks who haven't given Wikileaks a fair shake, some see it as vigilantism, but I think this one definitely crossed the line into bad taste."

It was especially bad taste, considering the timing, just two days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Within 10 minutes of being hacked, NBC suspended its account and Twitter shut down the hackers account, while Twitter followers did the fact checking.

"We actually have more sources than ever, we have more people to triangulate data with, and we can see in this case, even though one account was hacked, rumors were stopped in their tracks quickly.

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