Twitter hack hits high-profile accounts including Obama, Biden; exposes chilling potential risks to national security

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All hell broke loose on Twitter late Wednesday afternoon thanks to a sitewide hack perpetrated by a group of hackers who’d reportedly paid off a Twitter employee for access to the social media network’s back-end control panel tools.

Using these tools, the hackers commandeered the accounts of several high-powered blue checkmark figures — including former President Barack Obama and presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden — and used them to trick unsuspecting followers into sending them Bitcoin payments.

Observe:

Twitter promptly responded by disabling the ability of all blue checkmark accounts from tweeting as it investigated the matter further.

“While the hackers appear to be after bitcoin, the fact that this appears to be a sitewide — and ongoing — incident is a huge cause for concern beyond the bitcoin theft. Considering that President Trump uses Twitter to announce national policy, the thought of a compromised Trump account is terrifying,” Mashable reported.

“The move to turn off tweeting for verified accounts seems like a blunt tool to prevent the hackers from causing further damage, and potentially hacking more people, such as Trump. However, it’s also left the celebrities, journalists, comedians, and generally verbal people of the world with a lot of pent up quips amid a historic digital crisis.”

Twitter eventually resolved the matter and re-enabled blue checkmark accounts around 9:00 pm late Wednesday evening.

Statements soon followed from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Twitter’s official “Support” account:

At 9:24 pm, Sen. Josh Hawley, a big proponent of eliminating the Section 230 protections enjoyed by tech giants like Twitter, posted a public letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey demanding further answers for the unprecedented hack.

“I am concerned that this event may represent not merely a coordinated set of separate hacking incidents but rather a successful attack on the security of Twitter itself. As you know, millions of your users rely on your service not just to tweet publicly but also to communicate privately through your direct message service. A successful attack on your system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security,” he wrote.

Shortly thereafter, Vice magazine’s Motherboard confirmed that the hackers behind the attack had paid off a Twitter employee for access to an internal control panel.

“A Twitter insider was responsible for a wave of high profile account takeovers on Wednesday, according to leaked screenshots obtained by Motherboard and two sources who took over accounts,” the outlet reported.

Included in its report were screenshots of the panel:

(Screenshot)

As images of the panel spread, the scandal took a new direction as Twitter users realized the panel contained a “Trends Blacklist” button. Twitter had long claimed that it doesn’t “shadow-ban” or “blacklist” trends. Yet here was evidence showing otherwise.

See some of the outrage that ensued below:

This stunning scandal has reinforced calls for President Donald Trump to strip tech giants like Twitter of all protections and essentially nationalize them.

Not only is it clear now that Twitter has indeed been censoring certain voices, but it’s also apparent that Twitter’s poor security is a national security threat.

Just imagine what might unfold if Twitter hackers were to commandeer the account of the president of the United States …

As The Verge noted, “The threat here is not simply user privacy and data security, though those threats are real and substantial. It is about the striking potential of Twitter to incite real-world chaos through impersonation and fraud. As of today, that potential has been realized.”

Indeed.

Vivek Saxena

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

V. Saxena is a staff writer for BizPac Review with a decade of experience as a professional writer, and a lifetime of experience as an avid news junkie. He holds a degree in computer technology from Purdue University.
Vivek Saxena

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