ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports: Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., has hired a lawyer after a lewd photo of an unidentified man was posted to his twitter account and directed at a 21-year-old female college student from Seattle.
A spokesman for Weiner said the congressman is exploring “civil or criminal actions” in response to the incident, which he called a “prank.” It’s unclear whether the office has also requested an independent investigation.
The twitter post, which appeared Friday night and was quickly deleted, was first reported on by conservative website Biggovernment.com.
“I was hacked. It happens to people,” Weiner told CNN Monday night. “This is a prank, not a terribly creative one, and it’s a distraction.”
Gennette Cordova, the alleged target of Weiner’s tweet, said in a statement Sunday to the New York Daily News that even though she’s a “fan” of Weiner – who was also following her on twitter – she has never met the congressman.
“There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me,” she said.
“I cannot answer the questions that I do not have the answers to. … I also do not have a clear understanding as to how or why exactly I am involved in this fiasco.”
Weiner, 46, is married to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Internet security experts said the controversial post could have easily been done by someone with access to the congressman’s accounts. But they also say it’s plausible that an unauthorized person infiltrated the system.
“Those things get hacked the simplest ways,” Alan Paller, director of the SANS Institute for Computer Security Training, said of Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“It’s either shoulder surfing, where someone stands behind you when you sign in, or they just guess,” he said. “They figure out what your user name is, which is usually your name, and then they just try your wife’s name, your kid’s name, your wife’s birthday for the password or just keep trying until they find one.”
Paller said more advanced hackers, who take over an individual personal computer or network, could install a keystroke logger to commandeer a Twitter or Facebook password. What happened in Weiner’s case remains to be seen.
If a hacker was responsible for the post, it wouldn’t be the first time.
A 25-year-old Frenchman hacked into President Obama’s Twitter account last year and was later arrested.
And hackers broke into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s personal email account in 2008, exposing cell phone numbers and other private information.