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Hackers take over Sansad TV’s YouTube channel, rename it to Ethereum

This incident appears to fit an emerging pattern of government-linked social media handles being used to launch crypto scams.

The YouTube account of Sansad TV, a government-owned channel for broadcasting parliamentary proceedings, was hacked on February 15, according to a press release issued by the channel. At around 1am in the morning, the account’s name was changed to ‘Ethereum’ and unauthorised activities like livestreaming were carried out.

However, Sansad TV’s social media team managed to restore the account by 3:45 am that day. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) reported the incident to the channel, and YouTube has begun fixing the security issues, the press release added.

MediaNama could not access SansadTV’s YouTube channel until late in the evening on February 15. We have reached out to YouTube for clarification on how the account was hacked and will update this post if they respond.

Recently, a number of such hacking incidents have been reported of crypto scammers targetting government-run social media handles. Just last month, high-profile Twitter accounts like that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting were compromised to post crypto-related tweets.

Why was the account suspended?

Until 10 am that day, Sansad TV’s YouTube channel showed a message that the account had been terminated for violating the platform’s community guidelines, according to the Indian Express. The guidelines say that spam, sensitive content, nudity and sexual content, etc., are the reasons for which YouTube suspends the playback of a video or terminates an account.

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However, sources at SansadTV said that YouTube suspends an account for up to 48 hours to fix security issues after such a hacking. They also said that the account was hacked, not as a result of phishing or spam links, but due to security issues within YouTube.

Other high-profile Twitter accounts compromised in recent times

Ministry of Rural Development’s twitter account: On January 28, scammers took over the account, changed the name of the account from the Ministry of Rural Development to Elon Musk and posted tweets identical to those posted by the Tesla CEO.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s Twitter account: On January 12 2022, the MIB’s Twitter handle was briefly compromised, during which it was renamed to ‘Elon Musk’ and started posting links, retweets, and replies related to him.

PM Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter account: On December 12, 2021 Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter handle (@narendramodi), which has over 73 million followers, was “briefly compromised.” The compromised account sent out a tweet falsely declaring that Bitcoin (BTC) had been adopted as legal tender in the country and that the government has bought 500 BTC to be distributed among residents of the country. Following the incident, the Indian Computer Emergency Response System (CERT-In), the nodal agency for responding to cybersecurity incidents, began an investigation.

Twitter accounts of the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Mann Deshi Mahila Bank (a microfinance bank): On January 3, these Twitter accounts were compromised and renamed as Elon Musk and tweets promoting cryptocurrency were shared.

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Update: The story was updated at 1PM on 16th February to add a reference to the hacking of the Ministry of Rural Developments Twitter account.

Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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