On Tuesday morning, YouTube channels showered fans with weird music videos for some of the world’s biggest stars. Vevo channels for artists like Lil Nas X, Eminem, Drake, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, The Weeknd, Michael Jackson, Kanye West and many others were affected. The channels in question have subscriber counts reaching into the hundreds of millions. Before the videos disappeared, viewers saw bizarre clips of Paco Sanz, a Spanish con man who has been sentenced to two years in prison for fraud for lying about terminal cancer, and rapper Lil Tjay.
YouTube did not respond to requests for comment from The edge; However, Vevo – which bills itself as “the world’s leading music video network” – acknowledged the incident. A spokesperson responded to contact via Vevo’s public press information and requested not to be named, citing the “nature” of the incident. They said in a statement that “Some videos were uploaded directly to a small number of Vevo artist channels earlier today by an unauthorized source.”
PLEASE NOTE: Major artists are currently being hacked by @lospelaosbro
so far it looks like Juice WRLD, Eminem, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, Justin Bieber, Travis Scott, Trippie Redd, Michael Jackson, The Weeknd and more artist YouTube channels have been hacked! pic.twitter.com/UtL6yiKxRF
— Music Countdowns (@MCountdowns) Apr 5, 2022
As well as saying the videos are gone, they also claimed, “There was no pre-existing content accessible to the source. While the artist channels have been secured and the incident resolved, as a best practice Vevo will conduct an assessment of our security systems.”
In another Vevo-related breach in 2018, popular music videos were defaced, while the then most-watched YouTube video of all time, “Despacito” (it’s now the second, behind “Baby Shark”), was vandalized and briefly removed.
Google and YouTube have recently focused on trying to secure popular channels. Last year, a report pointed to a phishing campaign targeting creators, YouTube needed millions of popular channels to enable two-step verification, and Google says it has given away hardware authentication keys to more than 10,000 high-risk users.
Despite these precautions, an apparent compromise somewhere in Vevo’s pipeline allowed the attacker, who pointed to their Twitter handle @lospelaosbro in the posts, to continue uploading through high-profile channels for several hours.
The artists or the people who manage their pages probably weren’t able to do anything about the problem. Vevo’s artist information page explains that it works by creating a separate verified artist channel to upload videos, and YouTube merges that content with videos on the artist’s own YouTube page. A support page states that “Vevo does not provide direct access to artists.” Instead, independent content providers or the artist’s music label upload the content to Vevo, which sends it to YouTube and other channels†