MU journalism department’s Twitter account and website compromised by Venezuelan hackers

Mar 17, 2014

A screenshot of the compromised Twitter account.
Credit KBIA

  When journalism professor Karen Mitchell woke up Monday morning, she didn’t expect to be a target for Internet hackers with a political agenda.

Mitchell teaches convergence journalism at the University of Missouri and co-manages the @MUConvergence Twitter account with three other faculty members. Mostly journalism students, faculty and professional journalists follow the micro-blogging account.

At 11 p.m. Sunday, the hackers tweeted from the convergence account, and identified themselves as activists from the Venezuela Electronic Army.

When the faculty members found out about the account compromise, they changed the password, but the account was broken into for the second time early Monday morning.

The hackers changed the description of the @MUConvergence Twitter account to say, “Simply selling fake journalism gringos without any information on Venezuela.”

The hackers also defaced the convergence journalism department’s website that morning.

Mitchell said she doesn’t know who the hackers are or what they want.  “I really don’t understand what the hacker had to gain from this action,” she said.  

It took Justin Giles, an IT support specialist, about two and a half hours to get the website back on.

Giles said the hackers did it to convey a message. “We had an attacker who took some level of control of the website and then let the world know that they’ve control. So it was some sort of a defacement,” he said.

Giles and the convergence journalism faculty are looking into ways to increase the security measures of their website and social media to prevent future hacking.