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August 15, 2012

Reuters blogs hacked again

Third round of security woe for news agency as more false stories are posted on its blog

By Steve Evans

News service Reuters has been hacked again – the third time its defences have been breached in a fortnight.

This latest occasion saw one of its blog accounts compromised, with hackers posting a false reporting that claimed Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal had died. Reuters said it deleted the post as soon as it was made aware of the incident.

Reuters has provided no further details about who may have been behind the incident.

A Reuters spokesperson said: "Reuters.com was a target of a hack on Tuesday. Our blogging platform was compromised and a fabricated blog post saying Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal had died was illegally posted on a Reuters journalist’s blog on Reuters.com. Reuters did not report the false story and the post was immediately deleted. We are working to address the problem."

It is the third embarrassing hack to hit the news service in recent weeks. On Friday August 3, its blogging platform was also hit. That time hackers posted fake news stories about the situation in Syria.

The second incident followed just days later, and involved its technology news Twitter feed. Hackers gained access to the account and posted pro-Syrian government messages, including false messages about casualties suffered by the rebels.

Other messages also included claims US president Barack Obama had banned any further investigations of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that the US government had been funding al-Qaeda.

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Like many of the world’s biggest news websites, Reuters uses WordPress as its blogging platform. According to the Wall Street Journal at the time of the first incident, the company was using an out of date version of the site. That version contained vulnerabilities that were exploited by hackers to gain control of the site.

Reuters has not responded to CBR’s request for clarification on whether it is still using an older version of WordPress.

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