British man arrested in Spain over Twitter hack

Spanish police have arrested a 22-year-old British man for his possible involvement in the large-scale hack of Twitter. Hackers took over dozens of accounts of well-known twitterers to defraud followers with a bitcoin scam. He is also suspected of computer breaches, hacking TikTok and Snapchat accounts and cyberstalking of two minors.

In July 2020, Twitter was the target of a short-lived but large-scale hacking attack. Or a “coordinated social engineering attack” as Twitter described it. An unknown number of attackers managed to take over the accounts of several prominent Twitter users and tech companies. Hackers managed to take over the accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Apple and Uber, among others. In total there were 130 accounts.

The attackers ran a bitcoin scam through their accounts. They called on followers to “give back to society” and transfer bitcoins to a specific crypto wallet. They would then double the amount that came into this account. Many responded. In a short time, 12.9 bitcoin was transferred, which at the time had a value of approximately 100,000 dollars (85,000 euros). Once in the account, the amount was immediately transferred.

The hackers managed to hack into the accounts via a telephone spear-phishing attack. In this way they managed to get the login details of employees, so that they could gain access to Twitter’s support tools and internal network. Since the attack, Twitter has improved the security of its systems, including by restricting access to internal systems.

So far, the American investigative and security services have not been able to arrest any suspects. Up to now. The Ministry of Justice reports that Spanish police have arrested 22-year-old Joseph O’Connor in Estepona, a town in the southern region of Andalusia. This happened at the request of the American authorities.

The security services suspect O’Connor of having participated in the large-scale attack on Twitter. However, he has more crimes to his credit. The Justice Department suspects the man of multiple computer breaches, hacking and taking over multiple TikTok and Snapchat accounts and cyberstalking of two minors.

The federal court of the Northern District of California is hearing the case. It is unknown when the lawsuit will start and when we can expect a ruling.

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