US Teenager Charged In Twitter Hack Targeting High-Profile Accounts

Twitter reveals exactly how bitcoin scammers hacked Elon Musk's, Kim Kardashian's accounts

A Florida teen hacked the Twitter accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities and technology moguls to scam people around globe out of more than $100,000 in Bitcoin, authorities said Friday.

The hackers who accessed dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts in mid-July gained access to the system with an attack that tricked a handful of employees into giving up their credentials, according to a company update.

The attack targeted accounts of famous people such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Barack Obama.

Twitter previously called the hack a "coordinated social engineering attack" that had targeted some employees with access to internal systems.

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a complex nationwide investigation and located the teen in Hillsborough County. He faces 30 felony charges, according to a news release.

He then posted tweets from numerous accounts claiming that they wanted to "give back to the community" and would double Bitcoin donations sent to an attached address.


Reuters reported last week that more than a thousand Twitter employees and contractors as of earlier this year had access to internal tools that could change user account settings and hand control to others, making it hard to defend against the hacking.

Twitter said that not every employee targeted by the phishing had the authorization the attackers were looking for, but their credentials opened the door for them to figure out which additional employees they did need to target.

For 45 of those accounts, the hackers were able to reset passwords, login and send tweets, it added, while the personal data of up to eight unverified users was downloaded.

Now, Twitter has revealed what it's learned about how this hack took place, stating that it "relied on a significant and concerted attempt to mislead certain employees and exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to [Twitter's] internal systems". Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has said his inbox was among those accessed.

We will provide a more detailed technical report on what occurred at a later date given the ongoing law enforcement investigation and after we've completed work to further safeguard our service.

It's also possible the hackers pretended to call from the company's legitimate help line by spoofing the number, he said.

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