Celebrity Twitter accounts hacked

Twitter chief executive confirms accounts including that of Barack Obama have been hacked

Stuart Turton
1 May 2009

Twitter has confirmed that a hacker was able to access celebrity accounts, including those of Barack Obama and Britney Spears.

The hacker, who goes by the name Hacker Croll, flagged the hack by posting 13 screen grabs to a French forum. The grabs showed the hacker logged into the Twitter account of Jason Goldman, Twitter's director of product management.

Speaking on the forum, Hacker Croll claimed to have used social engineering techniques to access Goldman's account: "One of the admins has a Yahoo account, I've reset the password by answering the secret question. Then, in the mailbox, I have found her [sic] Twitter password."

"I've used social engineering only, no exploit, no xss vulnerability, no backdoor, np sql injection."

The claim was borne out by an earlier Twitter post from Goldman himself on 27 April, which announced "Wow - my Yahoo mail account was just hacked. If anyone with Yahoo Security is out there, hit me up with an reply".

Through Goldman's account Hacker Croll claimed to have accessed the accounts of high-profile Twitter users including Lily Allen and Ashton Kutcher. Croll further claims to have had access to any registered email addresses, mobile-phone numbers and the complete list of accounts blocked by those users.

Twitter chief executive Biz Stone confirmed the breach in a blog post: "This week, unauthorized access to Twitter was gained by an outside party. Our initial security reviews and investigations indicate that no account information was altered or removed in any way.

"However, we discovered that 10 individual accounts were viewed during this unauthorized access. We have personally contacted Twitter users whose accounts were compromised via this unauthorized access."

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