Three individuals were charged on Friday for allegedly hijacking a string of high-profile Twitter accounts after hoodwinking the social network's staff.
It is claimed a social-engineering-driven phishing campaign against Twitter employees led to hacking spreethe brief takeover on July 15 of 45 out of 130 targeted prominent accounts to promote a Bitcoin scam. Accounts belonging to Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Kanye West, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Kim Kardashian, and to companies like Apple, Uber, and various cryptocurrency exchanges were among those commandeered.
The hijacked accounts were used to urge Twitter users to donate Bitcoin to a specific address, with the promise that a larger sum would be returned. Those involved collected more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency. The miscreants also managed to access the Twitter Direct Messages in 36 accounts, and to download Twitter account data for seven accounts.
The account takeovers attracted national and international attention, and elicited concern that the social network's lax internal security could threaten social stability and national security.
"Increasingly we rely on platforms like Twitter to receive news and other information that is important to our lives," said US Attorney for the Northern District of California David Anderson in the video statement below. "The Twitter VIP hack undermines public confidence in those information platforms."
Anderson announced the charges, in conjunction with federal officials from the FBI, the Secret Service, the IRS, and the UK's National Crime Agency.
"There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be ..