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Twitter Cyberattack 'mastermind' Charged With Felony, US Police Arrest Teenage Hacker

A 17-year-old Florida resident, suspected as the ‘mastermind’ behind the recent Twitter cyberattack, was charged with 30 felony counts on Friday, July 31.

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A 17-year-old Florida resident, suspected as the ‘mastermind’ behind the recent Twitter cyberattack, was charged with 30 felony counts on Friday, July 31 (local time).

According to international media reports, the suspected teenager was arrested in Tampa after a detailed investigation. Along with the Florida based ‘mastermind’, two other persons accused of helping with Bitcoin scam also face criminal charges. The Twitter cyberattack hijacked celebrity accounts to swindle people out of more than $100,000 in a cryptocurrency scheme.

As per reports, the US Attorney’s Office in San Francisco announced charges against three people, including one United Kingdom resident. The officials informed that 19-year-old Mason ‘Chaewon’ Sheppard of Britain along with 22-year-old Nima Fazeli from Florida face criminal charges in the case that rocked Twitter.

While the details about the third individual were not released because he is a minor, reports suggest that officials might prosecute the 17-year-old ‘mastermind’ as an adult in the state. 

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As per reports, the three suspects are accused of hacking Twitter accounts, creating a scam Bitcoin account, and sending out imposter tweets from hijacked accounts offering to double Bitcoin cryptocurrency deposits.

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren is reported to have said that while the crimes were perpetrated using the name of famous people and celebrities, they were not the primary victims. As per reports, Warren added that ‘This Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country. 

Twitter cyberattack involved a combination of ‘technical breaches and social engineering’ that let hijackers take over accounts of several American politicians, celebrities, and musicians. Earlier, Twitter had informed that the hackers gained access to its system by tricking a handful of employees into giving up their credentials. 

READ: Twitter Says Hackers Used Phone To Fool Staff, Gain Access

VIPs account hijacked 

Bitcoin spam messages were tweeted out of the official accounts of Apple, Uber, Bill Gates, and many other VIPs with hackers funnelled over $100,000 worth of the virtual currency, according to Blockchain.com, a site that monitors crypto transactions. 

Earlier this week, Twitter informed that the Bitcoin scammers gemmed from a ‘spear phishing’ attack which deceived employees about the origin of the messages. The microblogging site added that the hackers targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear-phishing attack. 

As per a forensic review done by Twitter, the company found that the usernames were “sold” to the spammers and attackers initiated a password reset, then logged in to the accounts to send the misleading tweets. The attackers also downloaded the account’s information through our “Your Twitter Data” tool, Twitter revealed in the statement. 

While the hacked accounts were immediately locked down by Twitter, the company is reported to have significantly limited access to its internal tools and systems. The company also informed that it's taking additional steps to tighten security.

(Image Credits: Representational) 

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