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Thursday, March 25, 2010

High Profile Twitter Hacker Arrested in France

High Profile Twitter Hacker Arrested in France
Questioned, released and ordered to appear in court

The hacker credited with pulling off the most damaging hack against Twitter to date, which resulted in the leak of thousands of confidential corporate documents, was arrested by authorities in France. However, the Frenchman was questioned about an earlier attack involving unauthorized access to several high profile Twitter accounts, including that of Barack Obama.

At the beginning of May last year, someone calling himself "Hacker Croll" took credit for obtaining unauthorized access to a Twitter's administrative backend. In order to sustain his claim, the hacker released screenshots and private information taken from accounts belonging to the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Lily Rose Allen and Barack Obama.

The hacker explained at the time that he used nothing more than social engineering to hijack the e-mail and password of a Twitter employee named Jason Goldman. This gave him access to information from any account on the micro-blogging platform.

"Hacker Croll" repeated the feat a few months later, in July, but on a much larger scale. Starting by hacking into the personal e-mail account of a different Twitter worker, he eventually managed to access the company's Google Apps account, where thousands of internal corporate documents and communications were hosted.

Many of those files were later leaked and published online. Private information collected from them also allowed the hacker to social-engineer his way into the Gmail, AT&T, Amazon, PayPal, iTunes, MobileMe and GoDaddy accounts of multiple Twitter employees, including the company's founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone.

The French police finally caught up with "Hacker Croll" on Wednesday in the city of Clermont-Ferrand, after an investigation that lasted several months and involved a strong collaboration with the FBI. AFP reports that the 25-year-old unemployed hacker was released from police custody after being questioned in regards to the first incident and admitting to his involvement.

"He was a young man spending time on the Internet. He acted as a result of a bet, out of the defiance of the hacker. He is the sort who likes to claim responsibility for what he has done," prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat commented for the French news agency. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 24 and could face a sentence of two years in jail.

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