CARACAS — Over months, Venezuelan TV soap opera writer Leonardo Padron built a Twitter following of about 250,000 people by posting more than a dozen messages a day, many of them skewering President Hugo Chavez.
On Aug. 29, Mr. Padron issued a typical shot: “Chavez knows of the immense death toll that there is in this country, so why such indifference to the subject of insecurity?”
Three days later, however, the tweets picked a new target: Mr. Padron himself.
“In no way have I contributed to combat racism, discrimination, cultural alienation,” one note read. “My soap operas feed these evils in our society.”
Mr. Padron had fallen victim to an unknown hacker or group of hackers who have hijacked the accounts of at least nine well-known Chavez critics, posting curse-filled insults, threats and slogans such as “Long live Chavez.”
One late-night post called a journalist a homosexual, and another threatened a Chavez opponent: “I’m going after you little by little, Damned Narco.” Doctored photos show opponents wearing red berets of the sort favored by the socialist leader.
The burst of Twitter hacking has opened a new battlefield in Venezuela’s heated political wars. Some Chavez critics say their email accounts also have been compromised.
A group calling itself “N33” has claimed responsibility for the Twitter attacks, and those targeted have had “N33” appear on their Twitter profiles.
All sorts of theories have been circulating about who is behind N33, ranging from Chavez allies to opponents trying to make the government look bad. Some wonder if it could be a single young hacker trying to make a statement.
Mr. Padron heard from an acquaintance that his account was sending out insults. He had been wondering why he wasn’t able to sign. Suddenly, it was clear: Someone had stolen his password and shut him out.
“It’s an invasion, a humiliation. It’s as if you’re about to go into your house and the door doesn’t open with your key, and you sense there’s someone inside posing as you,” Mr. Padron said.
“You don’t imagine that your 2.0 life is going to be stolen, that your voice is going to be expropriated. Of course, I began to have a very strong feeling of indignation.”
Other victims of the attacks this month have included an activist, a humorist, three journalists, a TV show host, a former diplomat and a former Chavez supporter, all of them openly critical of Mr. Chavez.
Some of the victims have complained to authorities. Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said that two prosecutors are collecting evidence and will talk to witnesses.
Both Twitter and Google say the attacks most likely involved phishing, a form of Internet fraud in which victims are tricked into revealing passwords or other personal information through emails with links to pages that appear to be authentic.View Entire Story
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