Why President Trump’s Twitter account wasn’t part of massive hack

As Twitter hurried on Wednesday to discover the origin of one of the worst hacks in the social network’s history, the team came to a startling conclusion: The hack was coming from an account inside the house, yet perhaps the most high-profile Twitter accounts of all, President Trump’s (@realDonaldTrump and @POTUS) remained secure.

Apple's Twitter account has been breached by bitcoin scammers
Apple’s Twitter account was breached by bitcoin scammers

Mike Isaac, Sheera Frenkel and Kate Conger for The New York Times:

But even by Thursday afternoon, 24 hours after hackers pushed a Bitcoin scam from the accounts of political leaders like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and industry titans like Elon Musk, the company’s researchers were still struggling to nail down many other basic aspects of the breach, including whether an employee had been willfully complicit.

A few things were certain. Investigators know that at least one employee’s account and credentials were taken over and used to gain access to an internal dashboard, allowing the infiltrator to control most Twitter accounts, according to two people briefed on the company’s investigation. They would speak only anonymously because the investigation was still underway. Yet many of the details remained unclear, the people said. Investigators were still trying to determine if the hackers tricked the employee into handing over login information… But another line of inquiry includes whether a Twitter employee was bribed for their credentials, something one person who claimed responsibility for the hack told the technology site Motherboard.

President Trump’s account was not affected by the breach, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday. Mr. Trump’s account got extra protection after past incidents, according to a senior administration official and a Twitter employee, who would speak only anonymously because the security measures were private.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, Twitter needs to figure how this hack happened ASAP.

Barry Collins, writing for Forbes, says the president’s account must have some extra security above and beyond regular users, blue checkmarks or not, to have remained secure during this Twitter hack:

While many of the biggest Twitter accounts were vandalized with messages urging people to participate in what appears to be a bitcoin scam, the @realDonaldTrump account and its 83.5 million followers were not targeted. Neither was the official account of the president @POTUS and its 30.8m audience.

The question looms large: why did the scammers not target the most high-profile account of them all?

The president would undoubtedly be the service’s prime target for hackers, so it is possible that Twitter has afforded Mr Trump and his staff some form of extra verification that made it more difficult to breach his account… Twitter may, for example, only permit tweets to be made to Trump’s accounts from authorized devices, meaning that the hackers weren’t able to tweet on the president’s behalf.

8 Comments

  1. Amateurs. While they may have gotten 0.00002% to fall for the obviously pathetic Bitcoin pitch (how many people even have a Bitcoin wallet?) a smart criminal would have simply attacked one account instead of tipping their hand with this many.

    Specifically, if you had shorted TSLA – something that so many people are doing big time that the Feds could never figure out who you are – and posted on Musk’s account something to the effect of “I have terminal cancer and am stepping down immediately” etc. it would have had an instant flash crash making you tens of millions.

    My money’s on teenagers.

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