Prosecutors claim to have caught teenage mastermind behind Twitter hack
Three of the alleged perpetrators behind the July 16 Twitter hack have now been identified and charged, say prosecutors. Of the three identified by an Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice investigation, one — the alleged mastermind behind the attack — has been arrested.
In case you need a quick refresher, on July 16 someone seized control of several prominent Twitter accounts and tweeted a Bitcoin wallet address, promising to give anyone who sent money to it double the amount. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. The compromised accounts include Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, Apple, and Uber. According to Twitter, which updated its security post about the incident , the hackers targeted 130 accounts and tweeted from 45 of them. They also apparently downloaded the data of seven accounts.
We appreciate the swift actions of law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case progresses. For our part, we are focused on being transparent and providing updates regularly.
For the latest, see here :point_down: https://t.co/kHty8TXaly
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) July 31, 2020
Overall, the Twitter hack has been attributed to three people: Mason Sheppard, a 19-year-old in the UK; Nima Fazeli, a 22-year-old in Orlando; and a 17-year-old in Florida whose name we won’t use due to his age. The 17-year-old is described by prosecutors as the primary instigator of this attack. He was arrested in his Tampa, Florida home today. Fazeli and Sheppard are being charged separately by the US Attorney’s office in the Northern district of California.
The 17-year-old is being charged specifically with 30 felonies, including various different kinds of fraud. In addition to scamming everyone out of money — he allegedly collected nearly $120,000 from the hack — he also apparently sold access to some of the accounts. According to Florida state officials, he’s being charged as an adult. According to the New York Times , Fazeli and Sheppard acted as brokers of the stolen accounts.
Twitter later revealed that the hack was done via “social engineering,” and something called a phone spear phishing attack. Essentially, they targeted employees by pretending to be trusted coworkers, and gained access to their accounts. As Twitter puts it: “… the attackers used their credentials to access our internal systems and gain information about our processes. This knowledge then enabled them to target additional employees who did have access to our account support tools.”
Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren said the people who sent money are the real victims: “Scamming people out of their hard-earned money is always wrong. Whether you’re taking advantage of someone in person or on the internet, trying to steal their cash or their cryptocurrency — it’s fraud, it’s illegal, and you won’t get away with it.”
Pssst, hey you!
Do you want to get the sassiest daily tech newsletter every day, in your inbox, for FREE? Of course you do: sign up for Big Spam here .
- Searching the Web UVA - 1597
- Apple just gave the 27-inch iMac a major spec bump and a matte display option
- Roborock’s S6 MaxV robot vacuum is too smart to do the dirty work
- Bitfinex offers $400M reward for return of $1.3B in stolen Bitcoin
- Hey Google, can you sort out the Docs iPad app please?
- Why we need more image masking tools to avoid facial recognition systems from identifying u...
- Satoshi Nakaboto: ‘Twitter hacker who owns 300 Bitcoins has bail set for $725K’
- Swapping sofas for skincare: How MADE’s co-founder plans to renovate the beauty industry
- The PS4 controller will work with PS5, but not PS5 games
- We charted the screen-to-body ratio of Google Pixel phones
- Say hello to SHIFT, our new publication about the future of mobility tech
- COVID got the world addicted to (computer) tablets — we made some pie charts about it
- Prosecutors claim to have caught teenage mastermind behind Twitter hack
- Algorithm reveals which new emoji Twitter users most desire
- New AI tool detects child sexual abuse material with ‘99% precision’
- YouTube will no longer let viewers help creators with subtitles and captions
- India’s opaque site bans set a dangerous precedent for censorship
- This app uses AI to make your selfies look fabulously ridiculous
- Check out how often your article has been shared on social media, and by who
- Big Tech told Congress there’s loads of competition. This chart says otherwise