Hundreds of Twitter accounts ranging from media outlets to celebrities like Justin Bieber were hacked Wednesday, branded with the Turkish flag and made to send out tweets in Turkish.
The compromised accounts – including @Forbes, @BBC America, @Atlanta_Police, @CBSTVStudios, @Bieber_Japan, sports teams and other verified users – tweeted a message in Turkish overnight.
One tweet appears to show a swastika – a symbol adopted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. There were also two hashtags, which translated mean Nazi Germany and Nazi Holland. The tweet appears to be in favor of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The tweet links to a video of Erdogan. It also mentions the date of April 16, which is when Turkey will hold a referendum seeking to give more power to the President.
Last weekend Turkish hacker groups targeted a large number of Dutch websites after the political fallout between the Netherlands and Turkey.
NL Times was the victim of at least two DDoS attacks on Sunday and Monday, in an attempt to take the site offline, according to a Turkish-language Facebook group linked to cyber-attackers. In a DDoS attack, a large amount of traffic is sent to specific servers, causing them to crash.
The website Rumag was hacked on Monday, according to NU.nl. Pro-Turkish and anti-European texts with a photo of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan were posted on the site. After the Turkish text a message was displayed in English. It read, “Hey Europe, you often talk about democracy, human rights and freedom. But your fear of ‘Great Turkey’ shows your colonialist, racist and fascist crusade mentality and shows your true face.” The message is signed by hacking group Cyber-Warrior Akincilar.
Some of the websites were taken over and messages were left. One read: “You Dutch think we will do nothing, but you are wrong. We will never forget what you have done to us.” While no direct reference is made to the diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Turkey, the message does seem to refer to it.
There has been rising tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands. Last week Erdogan branded the Dutch government “Nazi remnants and fascists”. A Turkish minister was blocked from visiting the country’s consulate in Rotterdam. Erdogan responded by warning the Netherlands it would “pay the price” for its actions.
It seems the Turkish president kept his promise and that’s why he began his own crusade. But nothing highlights this weakness, this manic insecurity, and this puerile obsession with control than the ransomware attack on the Hollywood Hospital. Last year the hackers from Turkey were responsible for hacking a hospital in Los Angeles and promised to continue such attacks if the U.S. government continues to support Kurdish rebels.
Power is a weapon. And like a domestic firearm, it is a weapon that is likely at least as dangerous to you as to others. This is how the great Turkish Republic, long a bastion of pluralist secular Islam, is slowly being reduced to the state-sponsored hacking groups which attack foreign countries to please their Sultan.