Mass piracy of Twitter, signal alarm on the vulnerability of social networks

Le piratage massif de Twitter, signal d’alarme sur la vulnérabilité des réseaux sociaux

Mass piracy of Twitter raises the question of the safety of the favorite social network of Donald Trump and, more widely, of all platforms, in particular to the approach of the u.s. presidential elections. The “modus operandi” to possible defenses against hackers, what we know of this spectacular cyber-attack.

An attack “rather classic”

A few hours after the cyber attack, which has seen audited accounts of figures such as Joe Biden or Bill Gates promise the gullible internet users to double their bet for any transfer in bitcoin that they would go to a given address, Twitter still leads the investigation.

But tracks emerge. According to the magazine Vice, a person within Twitter could be at the origin of the attack, according to screenshots shared with two anonymous sources who say they are responsible for the piracy. One of these sources told the magazine that an employee of Twitter had been paid.

“This is not the result of a technical failure. It has been referred to one or more Twitter employees to be safe to fall on the access to the operational manager of the audited accounts, therefore, of high reputation, in order to enhance the communication around the scam, rather classic in addition “, explains to the AFP Loïc Guezo, director of strategy, cyber security at ProofPoint.

“The first few tracks seem to go back to at least one person who tried these the last days of access to audited accounts of eminent persons on the black markets, without success. It seems, therefore, that he made the choice to use it himself to ensure a quick win, ” according to Gérôme Billois, expert cyber security for Wavestone.

What are the consequences ?

In the immediate future, they are limited. Twitter reacted quickly, disabling the affected accounts and limiting the possibilities of sharing of suspicious messages before you regain control.

Financially, the scam also seems to be small in scale : according to the specialized site following the transactions carried out in cryptomonnaies, a total of 12.58 bitcoins, or nearly 116.000 dollars, has been sent to one of the addresses mentioned in the tweets to be fraudulent.

It is this that has allowed Twitter to limit the case : the criminals have sought a quick win in addition to hit the minds by the character particularly spectacular operation.

“Twitter has been very responsive, they have visibly significant investigative capacity. They have also played the card of transparency, communicating regularly, which is to their credit and a sign of true maturity on the issue, ” according to a spokesman of the Clusif (club of information security in French).

An alarm signal

The consequences could have been much more serious if the crooks had been referred to policy, stress the experts.

“From a political point of view, a false tweet at a critical time could have a huge impact. Someone who would have access to this type of account at the right time and with the right type of false information could totally swing an election, ” considers, for example, Anthony Glees, a professor specializing in security and intelligence at the University of Buckingham.

“The ability to take in hand a significant number of the certified accounts of the first election period (in the U.s.) for tweeting at specific times could have a dramatic effect,” confirms the Clusif, ” here, the weakness shown by Twitter is extremely worrying and is based on the question of the importance of social platforms in the election period “.

For professor Alan Woodward, of the centre for cyber security at the University of Surrey, the attack ” demonstrates that organisations such as Twitter are just as prone to attacks via the staff and that they need to rethink their operations.”

How to protect yourself ?

A lot of simple rules allow you to avoid the theft of personal accounts : avoid clicking on email attachments that may seem suspicious in an email, do not give their login information even when an e-mail from the service used for the request or use a dual system of authentication.

Except that many of these precautions would not have been able to against the attack that targeted Twitter, in the case where the latter was based on a human failing, even inside the same platform.

The case recalls that ” behind the machines there are humans, who can have access to our private messages and the information that one puts in. These systems are not closed, whatever you and trade can be accessed. This is like the submerged part of the iceberg, ” points out Gérôme Billois.

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