Twitter’s Insider Threat

July 19, 2020

Last Thursday Twitter reported that 130 accounts had been compromised in a cyberattack that took control of high-profile accounts to promote a bitcoin scam. The attackers used three different bitcoin accounts and managed to receive $121,000 dollars, which came from 400 separate payments. Several well known accounts were included in the attack, including those of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Apple, and Uber. The accounts were seen posting tweets trying to persuade people to send them bitcoin, with the promise of sending back double the funds in return. Twitter said it believes the hack was a “coordinated social engineering attack” on its employees — in other words, insiders at the company were tricked into handing over access to internal systems and tools. The FBI has now become involved according to a report from CNBC.

DJ’s Take

This is all the more evidence for companies to setup an Insider Threat program. This is not an invite to spy on employees, but instead an opportunity to setup a program that looks for indicators and can aggregate that data together into actionable notifications of potential threats or unusual behavior.

Ian’s Take

This was definitely an insider job. It’s got all the markings. The question I have is, was this person or group based in the US, or were they foreign workers with nothing to lose?  The scary thing is that Twitter has so much power over public opinion. If they had decided to use the platform to make threats or declare war, there could have been serious repercussions.  When Twitter was created it was designed for simple notifications to your friends, it was never designed as the microphone for world leaders.

The other revelatory information was that Twitter was indeed banning or blacklisting people. At one point in time, screenshots leaked showing that Twitter was indeed capable of banning people and swaying public opinion. There are far too many times I’ve seen trends that are rising, just drop. One trend, for example, that got squashed was related to Jeffrey Epstein.  The big fear is that is that if the platforms don’t agree with their user’s opinion, they outright squash that opinion. I find this a very scary thought, where as a society we will continue to live in these echo chambers where discourse is not allowed to thrive–whereas discontent is allowed to fester. Twitter gets a black eye on this one. It’s still a great platform, but when I see and experience events like this, it makes me long for the old days when the internet was really open.

Twitter’s Apology

Comments are closed.