ATLANTA, GEORGIA — A hacker gained unauthorized access Friday to the publishing platform behind the political website of television network CNN, using it to post a false news story about an anonymous Bitcoin currency exchange going out of business, the company said Saturday.
The false news story was posted at around 4 p.m. Eastern time on Friday on CNN’s “Political Ticker” blog, which provides politics-related news updates. The false news story claimed the California Supreme Court had issued a ruling earlier this month that would have forced Bitcoin currency exchange BTC-e to close on Monday.
“A user’s credentials for a third-party publishing platform were compromised and the content of an archived blog post altered,” CNN Worldwide spokesman Matt Dornic said in an e-mail on Saturday. “We have corrected the issue and are working with the vendor to ensure the platform’s security.”
Dornic did not identify the third-party publishing platform, but CNN’s “Political Ticker” blog is powered by content management system WordPress. It was not immediately known whether the hacker used a phishing scam or other means to gain access to the account of a CNN employee.
One computer security expert familiar with digital currency Bitcoin said those responsible for the false news story may have aimed to trigger a sell-off on BTC-e to lower the currency’s volatile exchange rate. He noted the exchange rate on BTC-e briefly dropped after the false story was posted, which remained online for nearly an hour.
“Crash the price by FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and buy Bitcoins,” the expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said about Friday’s event. “I’d say in the first few moments, some people made loads of cash. And it can be totally anonymous, using a disposable e-mail address.”