The unidentified cyber-attackers replaced Jeep's logo with Cadillac's and suggested Chrysler's iconic group had been sold to the General Motors Co luxury brand, forcing Cadillac to clarify that it had nothing to do with the hack on its own Twitter feed.
"The official Twitter handle for the Jeep Just Empty Every Pocket. Sold to Cadillac. In a hood near you!" read the tagline on Jeep's Twitter page.
"Sorry guys no more Jeep production because we caught our CEO doing this," read one tweet that linked to a picture of a man inhaling on what appeared to be a bong.
A Cadillac spokesman in Detroit said the brand had no official comment, other than to observe there was "some Twitter mischief going on."
Ignite Social Media, the North Carolina-based agency that manages Twitter and other social media accounts for most of Chrysler's brands in North America, noticed the first unauthorized tweet on Jeep's site at 1:32 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to Ed Garsten, head of Chrysler digital media.
"They immediately contacted Twitter to start the process to regain control of the account," Garsten said, adding that the account was back under Chrysler's control in less than an hour.
"The agency and the company are looking at strengthening security on the site," said Garsten. This would include stronger passwords and other measures.
"We have no idea who did it. I understand Twitter was especially prepared to deal with today's situation because they just went through the process with Burger King."
Hackers breached the Twitter account of fast-food chain Burger King Worldwide Inc on Sunday, posting the online equivalent of graffiti and forcing its suspension for about an hour. The hackers also claimed the hamburger chain had been sold to arch-rival McDonald's Corp.
Other companies took advantage of the attention surrounding the Twitter hackings to promote their own brands.
Viacom Inc's MTV sent out a message that it also had been hacked on its official Twitter account with more than 6.6 million followers. But it was just a prank, which was confirmed on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. BET, also owned by Viacom, pulled a similar stunt.
Twitter, which industry experts say has a poor track record on online security and reliability, has over the past year begun courting big corporate sponsors, hoping to beef up its revenue stream as it competes for Web surfers with Google Inc and Facebook Inc.
Industry analysts have urged the company for years to beef up online security by adopting "two-factor authentication" or encrypting its website, among other measures.
This month, anonymous hackers broke into Twitter and possibly gained access to passwords and other information for as many as 250,000 user accounts.
"Twitter is like Facebook in that it started as a way of sharing thoughts and friendships, and security seems to be the antithesis of sharing. After all, how much damage can a little 140-character message do?" said Murray Jennex, a cyber-security expert at San Diego State University.
"That said, when business saw an opportunity to do business using Twitter, that risk assessment went away and, at that point, Twitter should have implemented a SecureID or two-factor authentication login."
© Thomson Reuters 2013