According to the reports, a 17-year-old teenager has been arrested for the recent Twitter hack that has targeted numerous high profile accounts as a part of the massive scam of Bitcoins. Two other teenagers reportedly aged 19 and 22 years old have also been arrested. Police have confirmed them as the alleged masterminds behind this colossal attack.
This event is being considered as one of the most significant cyber attacks the online world has ever seen. The hackers took over Powerful American Twitter accounts and started tweeting about bitcoins. It was later declared as “a bad day” by Twitter. Although it was a scam, this opened the eyes of big names that saw major faults in Twitter security. Twitter tried to take over the accounts and deleted the messages which were posted by the hackers. Still, after taking down, there were accounts posting similar bitcoin messages.
The U.S. Department of Justice arrested Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” who was aged 19- resident of the United Kingdom, Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” who was aged 22- resident of Florida and another juvenile, Graham Clark who was aged 17- resident of Tampa Bay. They were charged with the crimes of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy in money laundering, and the intentional access of eminent influential people.
The lead suspect Graham Clark has reportedly been charged with 30 felonies of communications along with organized fraud for scamming hundreds of people using compromised accounts.
What Happened that Day?
The biggest security lapse in the entire history of Twitter occurred on 15th July 2020, where a juvenile hacker managed to hack almost 130 twitter accounts of high profile personnel. Some of the big names whose profile was hacked were Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Kanye West, Barack Obama, Warren Buffet, Joe Biden, and Apple.
These hacked profiles tweeted a message at 4 pm. A message which urged millions of people on Twitter who were following them to transfer money to a specific address of a bitcoin wallet to get double the amount in return. The tweet lasted about half an hour.
Twitter also released a statement of its several employees being attacked through the phone using spear-phishing techniques. Their employees were deliberately misled, and their “human vulnerabilities” exploited to gain swift access into their internal systems.
Twitter also revealed that 45 verified accounts out of 130 hacked accounts were made to post scam tweets, while the hackers accessed the private message sections of 36 accounts. Reports also suggest that the attackers downloaded the information of 8 accounts using the archive tool of “Your Twitter Data“.
All about the Attack
The first ones affected were the handles of Apple and Uber, which were followed by Elon Musk and Bill Gates. In just some hours, it had already taken over the handles of former U.S. President Barack Obama, political figures like Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Several reports also reported about the Twitter handles of famous boxer Floyd Mayweather and celebrity Kim Kardashian been hacked. As soon as this occurred, Twitter locked all these high profiles’ verified accounts across the world in order to prevent any leakage of sensitive information on the internet.
The hackers, who came from an online community aimed mostly at stealing and reselling valuable usernames. They didn’t attempt to uncover and release any private communications, instead seemed totally satisfied with the bitcoin scam. Over 100,000 dollars were received in the Bitcoin wallet that was posted by the hackers, from a minimum of 300 transactions.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, termed it a tough day for “us at Twitter”.
He tweeted, “We all feel terrible for what happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a complete understanding of exactly what happened.”
Implications of this Security Lapse
The fact that the most powerful and popular accounts have been hacked makes the implications huge. Given the influence that Twitter has over political conversations globally, and particularly in the US, the verified handles of so many big names being compromised at the same time do not go well for this social platform.
A Senator, Josh Hawley from Missouri, has asked Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey to give an explanation for the lapse in security once they fix the situation. Twitter will be under huge pressure and will have to do the explaining part to the American political establishment in the coming days.
According to the reports of CNN, a law enforcement source told that the FBI believes the motive behind the hack was bitcoin theft and the sale of access to the accounts. Conspiracy theories suggesting this to be an intelligence effort by a foreign government were verified to be false.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) says that organizations such as Twitter have to depict “appropriate” levels of security. And if the investigators conclude that Twitter failed to take adequate measures to protect European users, it could be fined.
Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey had lost control of his account for 20 minutes, earlier this year. In 2010, Twitter had settled with the Federal Trade Commission after it was alleged hackers had obtained unauthorized administrative control, including the ability to send out phony tweets from then-President-elect Barack Obama and Fox News.