Hack­ers ‘paid Twit­ter worker’ to take over high-pro­file ac­counts

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - Michael Cog­ley By

A TWIT­TER em­ployee was paid by hack­ers to in­fil­trate top ac­counts of bil­lion­aires, politi­cians and celebri­ties as part of an al­leged Bit­coin scam, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

Posts try­ing to dupe peo­ple into send­ing hack­ers the vir­tual cur­rency Bit­coin were tweeted by the of­fi­cial ac­counts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Kim Kar­dashian and many oth­ers on Wed­nes­day.

Vice-owned site Mother­board re­ported that hack­ers had con­vinced an em­ployee at the com­pany to grant them ac­cess to an in­ter­nal user ad­min­is­tra­tion tool.

Cit­ing leaked screen­shots and two un­named sources, the site re­ported that the hack­ers used an em­ployee that “lit­er­ally done all the work for us”.

A sep­a­rate source sug­gested that the hack­ers paid the em­ployee for ac­cess to the tool. Twit­ter is still in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether or not an em­ployee hacked the ac­counts them­selves or gave the hack­ers di­rect ac­cess to the tool, Mother­board

re­ported. Hack­ers also used the tool to change the own­er­ship of some ac­counts, as well as pump out cryp­tocur­rency scams.

Twit­ter chief Jack Dorsey de­scribed it as “tough day” for Twit­ter and that ev­ery­one “felt ter­ri­ble this hap­pened”.

Last night the White House said that pres­i­dent Trump, one of the plat­form’s most pro­lific users with nearly 84 mil­lion fol­low­ers, will keep tweet­ing. “The pres­i­dent will re­main on Twit­ter and his ac­count was not jeop­ar­dised,” a spokesman said.

The at­tack caused high-pro­file ac­counts such as Ap­ple’s to tweet that they were “giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity” and that other users should do the same us­ing a Bit­coin link. Sur­rey Univer­sity

pro­fes­sor Alan Wood­ward was scep­ti­cal of sug­ges­tions that a Twit­ter em­ployee could have been paid to hand over ac­cess.

“You’d have to be the silliest Twit­ter em­ployee be­cause it’s go­ing to be trace­able right back to you, it will be a one-way trip out the door into court,” he said. “Ev­ery­body has their price, it might be that if some­body of­fered them enough cryp­tocur­rency maybe they thought they could re­tire to the sun and that would be it, so it’s a pos­si­bil­ity.” Ama­zon’s Jeff Be­zos, for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mike Bloomberg and mu­si­cian Kanye West were also af­fected by the scam.

Records sug­gest that hack­ers may have made as much as $100,000 (£80,000) from dona­tions through the link. How­ever, at least some of this is likely to be from the cy­ber-crim­i­nals putting in their own money in a bid to por­tray le­git­i­macy.

Twit­ter shares fell more than 1pc yes­ter­day.

The of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count of Kim Kar­dashian West was one of those to fall vic­tim to the al­leged Bit­coin scam

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