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Hacked news firms declare World War Three between US and China

Both The New York Post and United Press International have had their Twitter accounts hacked to proclaim that war has begun between China and the United States.

At around 6pm GMT on Friday evening, both organisations reported that China had fired missiles on the warship USS George Washington and that the US had since retaliated. It was also claimed that the battle had sent interest rates tumbling.

Read more: US Military believe hack to be ‘purely a case of cyber vandalism’, security experts disagree

While The New York Post took down the messages a few minutes after posting, UPI was slower to react. The latter’s account even included a falsified quote from Pope Francis, declaring the start of World War Three. In a statement published online, UPI confirmed the hack and revealed that its website had also been targeted.

While stock markets were not affected, it is another embarrassing moment for the US regarding their cyber security, particularly as it comes just a few days after the US military command was hacked by followers of Islamic State.

With a number of high-profile hacks making the news throughout 2014, President Barack Obama has announced a series of new proposals to improve online defences. US-based entertainment firm Sony Pictures also suffered a well-publicised hack in the lead up to the release of The Interview, a film depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

While the recent attacks on the New York Post and UPI were not taken seriously by most, John Noonan, the spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee said that the story did have a small element of truth to it.

Read more: President Obama embarrassed by Islamic State hack

"Give the hackers this much credit, the George Washington is our permanent Pacific based carrier," he tweeted. "They at least did their homework."