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Security & privacy

Hackers spam Reddit with Trump campaign posts and messages

It’s been an eventful year in the world of cybersecurity. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage throughout the U.S. and beyond, hackers and cybercriminals are unleashing a surge of devastating hacks on some of the web’s biggest sites.

Previously, we saw platforms like Twitter and YouTube fall victim to widespread account hijackings that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. Twitter, in particular, lost control of some of its most famous accounts in a matter of minutes. Tap or click here to see how the 2020 Twitter hack unfolded.

But now, it seems that Reddit has become the latest victim of 2020’s cybercrime spree. Several subreddits, the discussion boards that make up the platform, had their themes and images changed to include political undertones in an act that some are describing as vandalism. Here’s how it happened, and what it means for Reddit users everywhere.

Multiple subreddits hacked in what some are calling a ‘political’ cyberattack

Multiple Reddit accounts were compromised by unknown hijackers during the afternoon of August 7. These accounts were then used to change the imagery and themes of several “subreddit” discussion boards to include political themes unrelated to their intended topics.

Many of the boards were major hubs of discussion, including discussion boards for the NFL and Marvel’s Avengers, local boards in the cities of Vancouver and Dallas, and even meme boards for Game of Thrones and Japanese cartoons.

The edits made each board look more or less like the following screenshot from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer discussion board:

Needless to say, we’re pretty sure that President Trump isn’t a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, nor a fan of Japanese Anime or a resident of Dallas.

While political discussion isn’t discouraged on Reddit, the more pressing issue is how accounts were taken over to make these changes. Each subreddit is moderated by select users, who have the power to change themes, edit posts and ban other accounts, and if accounts were compromised, it points to security failure on Reddit’s end.

Speaking to reporters from Business Insider, a Reddit spokesperson claimed that the source of the attacks was indeed “compromised moderator accounts.” The spokesperson went on to say that they were working on locking the compromised accounts and “restoring impacted communities.” As of now, most of the accounts are back to normal.

Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that any private user information was stolen in the breach. If anything, this appears to be more of an act of “hacktivism” than any kind of moneymaking or data theft scheme. Tap or click here to find out more about the most famous hacktivist group of all: Anonymous.

I use Reddit. Is my account at risk?

From what Reddit representatives have said, only moderator accounts were targeted in the attack. This means ordinary Reddit users are probably safe from any security concerns.

Of course, if you happen to be a Reddit moderator (or just want peace of mind about your account security), resetting your Reddit password is straightforward and easy. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Tap or click here to visit Reddit’s password reset portal.
  2. Enter your Reddit username or the email address associated with your account. You should receive a link via email to reset your password from scratch.
  3. Check your email for the reset link. Make sure to verify the email address of the sender ends in @reddit.com to make sure it’s not a phishing scam.
  4. Click the link and choose a new password.

Once your password is reset, you should be safe to continue using your account. That is, at least, until the next big social media hack strikes next. Tap or click here to see how Flipboard was hacked last year.

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