A malicious hacker reportedly hijacked the Twitter account of NBA star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and riddled it with disparaging and offensive fake tweets about current and former players.
The fake tweets used expletives and a racial slur, and even targeted L.A. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash earlier this year. Other disparaged players included LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Antetokounmpo's teammate Khris Middleton.
According to ESPN, Antetokounmpo's agent confirmed that the 25-year-old Milwaukee Bucks player and 2019 MVP was not responsible for the tweets, which have since been removed. Reportedly, Antetokounmpo's girlfriend Mariah RiddleSprigger also tweeted that the player's phone, email and bank accounts were also hacked.
Despite not writing the tweets, Antetokounmpo apologized on Twitter after regaining control of his account.
"I was hacked and the situation is currently being investigated. The tweets and posts were extremely inappropriate and I am so disappointed and disgusted that somebody would say the terrible things that were said!" Antetokounmpo wrote. "I feel terrible that the Bucks, Khris, LeBron and the Curry family were included in the malicious and untrue tweets. I feel especially terrible for the Bryant family, during their time of grief they should not be subjected to this type of negativity and foul behavior. Thank you all for always supporting my family and I, and please stay safe!"
"There has been a rash of lower-echelon hacking teams that target high-profile accounts," said Ashlee Benge, senior threat researcher at ZeroFOX, in response to the hack. "With these kinds of attacks, it is often less of a typical compromise and more of a drive-by graffiti of these accounts. Needless to say, being in the spotlight definitely has its strong cons."
A recently published ZeroFOX report focusing on cyber threats facing the media and entertainment industry revealed that 63.3 percent of incidents targeting this sector from February 2019 through January 2020 were related to sports. Impersonations of media, sports and entertainment entities, which includes social media account takeovers, constituted 7.3 precent of attacks.