The Secret Service will investigate the hacking of the Fox News political Twitter account over tweets claiming that President Barack Obama was assassinated in Iowa.
Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said this afternoon that the law enforcement agency whose job it is to protect the president will conduct an investigation of the false postings.
The hacking early today resulted in six false tweets that Obama was assassinated. The tweets from the FoxNewsPolitics account alleged that an unknown shooter assassinated Obama in Iowa, and that the shooter is unknown.
Fox, which has a political Twitter account following of more than 34,000, issued a statement denouncing the hacks and saying it would investigate.
"Those reports are incorrect, of course, and the president is spending the July 4 holiday with his family," Foxnews.com said in its statement about the latest in a wave of high-profile cyber security breaches around the world.
"Hackers sent out several malicious and false tweets that President Obama had been assassinated," said the conservative media outlet, which Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns.
"The hacking is being investigated, and FoxNews.com regrets any distress the false tweets may have created," it said.
The White House and Secret Service both declined to comment on the incident.
The first hacked tweet appeared around 2 a.m., saying,: "@BarackObama has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July, indeed. President Barack Obama is dead."
The next one, "@BarackObama has just passed. Nearly 45 minutes ago, he was shot twice in the lower pelvic area and in the neck; shooter unknown. Bled out."
A group calling itself The ScriptKiddies claimed responsibility for sending the tweets, including "#ObamaDead, it's a sad 4th of July," from the "FoxNewspolitics" news feed before Twitter suspended its access.
Six false tweets were issued, saying that Obama had been shot at a restaurant in Iowa while campaigning — one even noting that Vice Presdient Joe Biden thus became president.
Obama was not in Iowa this weekend. He returned on Sunday to the White House from a brief trip to Camp David.
The Foxnews.com account hacking followed a wave of highly publicized cyber security breaches, including attacks on the bank Citigroup, Sony Corp., and the U.S. Senate and Brazilian presidential websites.
Monday's breach also raised questions about the integrity of news feeds on Twitter, which is increasingly used by news outlets as well as government officials as a way to reach readers and supporters.
Twitter spokeswoman Jodi Olson declined to say whether the company would add more security as a result of the attack, but stressed it was important for users to shield their profiles.
"We don't comment on specific accounts. In general, though, it's always good to remind people of the importance of actively protecting their account credentials," Olson said, recommending that all users have a strong password as a "starting point."
The FoxNews.com hacking came two days before Obama's first "Twitter town hall" where he will field tweeted questions about the economy and jobs. Twitter co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey is scheduled to moderate that Wednesday session at the White House.
It also came on the same day that Biden launched his own Twitter account.
Fox.com, another Fox Entertainment Group website, was the target of an attack by hacker group Lulz Security in May.
LulzSec has also made assaults on Sony, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and other targets. The attacks have mostly resulted in temporary disruptions to websites and the release of user credentials.
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