The 2020 Twitter Hack: How & Why

Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Unsplash

On July 15th, Twitter suffered a massive attack of security breach. Accounts of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates and more than 100 others were compromised and fell into the hands of 17 year old Graham Ivan Clark who is since arrested and in custody. You’d probably think This guy surely must be an elite hacker. Well, sorry to break your bubble.

This was in-fact possible by a mere Social Engineering technique, those shown in movies…yes, in movies. Surprised much? Go watch Catch Me If You Can

If you’ve watched this infamous Biographical crime movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, you’ve probably guessed the technique. Clark gained access to the accounts by convincing Twitter employees that he was a colleague and needed credentials to access the company’s customer-service platform

The employees were fooled into one of the most potentially dangerous yet silly attack ever. Fortunately, the attackers didn’t have big plans. On further analysis, this attack did not seem to be premeditated upon. Further investigation revealed that at least three more people were involved. The US Department of Justice arrested 22-year-old Nima Fazeli and 19-year-old Mason Shepphard, and an unidentified minor. The Florida boy is charged with over 30 felonies, by the FBI, IRS, US Secret Service, and Florida state law enforcement body.

Clark posted messages on behalf of the high- profile personalities and lured victims into sending Bitcoin amounting to more than $100,000 with a simple phishing technique with the message ‘Send Bitcoin and the money would be doubled’. Clark and others failed to hide their identities and the plan fell apart. The indeed quiet scheme to steal and sell unusual user names or short usernames fancied by many turned into the biggest Twitter attack in recent years ultimately resulting in their arrest.

Twitter’s integrity and reliability is today questioned. Twitter may now face legal consequences too.

Dr Heather Williams, from King’s College London, quoted “So this hack shows just how vulnerable social-media platforms are and how vulnerable Americans are to disinformation.” “If something bigger was at stake, such as the presidency, this could have really disastrous consequences and undermine our democratic processes.”

Here the question isn’t about how it failed but about how it took place in the first place. A 17 year old with no solid plan was able to take over one of the biggest and most trusted social media companies and manipulate accounts of the biggest influencers of the decade by a mere phone call. How safe are we, commoners? Most of us don’t think twice before agreeing to terms and conditions while downloading an app, showcase our personal life and contact details proudly on social media.

This incident comes as a warning to all of us to be more careful and wise in choosing what information to share and where to share. With Covid-19 pushing the globe to embrace the digital era, the number of fresh opportunities and victims for hackers have now reached new & unimaginable heights. The most vulnerable are those who are not well informed of the atrocities present on social media.

Research | Cyber Security enthusiast | I read Science & History books in my free time | I also dance sometimes