A Twitter insider was responsible for a wave of high profile account takeovers on Wednesday, according to leaked screenshots obtained by Motherboard and two sources who took over accounts.
On Wednesday, a spike of high profile accounts including those of Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Uber, and Apple tweeted cryptocurrency scams in an apparent hack.
“We used a rep that literally done all the work for us,” one of the sources told Motherboard. The second source added they paid the Twitter insider. Motherboard granted the sources anonymity to speak candidly about a security incident.
The accounts were taken over using an internal tool at Twitter, according to the sources, as well as screenshots of the tool obtained by Motherboard. One of the screenshots shows the panel and the account of Binance; Binance is one of the accounts that hackers took over today. According to screenshots seen by Motherboard, at least some of the accounts appear to have been compromised by changing the email address associated with them using the tool.
In all, four sources close to or inside the underground hacking community provided Motherboard with screenshots of the user tool. Two sources said the Twitter panel was also used to change ownership of some so-called OG accounts—accounts that have a handle consisting of only one or two characters—as well as facilitating the tweeting of the cryptocurrency scams from the high profile accounts.
Twitter has been deleting some screenshots of the panel and has suspended users who have tweeted them, claiming that the tweets violate its rules.
The panel is a stark example of the issue of insider data access at tech companies. Whereas in other cases hackers have bribed workers to leverage tools over individual users, in this case the access has led to takeovers of some of the biggest accounts on the social media platform and tweeted bitcoin related scams in an effort to generate income.
The screenshots show details about the target user’s account, such as whether it has been suspended, is permanently suspended, or has protected status.
One of the screenshots is a Twitter user posting images of the panel themselves. At the time of writing that account has been suspended.
A source in the SIM swapping community that Motherboard has previously communicated with provided a third screenshot, this time showing the panel and the account of Binance; Binance is one of the accounts that hackers took over today.
Data breach monitoring and prevention service Under The Breach obtained a similar screenshot and tweeted it as the worker hijacked several accounts. The person in control of the Under The Breach account told Motherboard Twitter then removed the tweet with the screenshot and suspended them for 12 hours. A message replacing the tweet now says it violated the Twitter rules.
A Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard in an email that, “As per our rules, we’re taking action on any private, personal information shared in Tweets.”
After the publication of this piece, Twitter said in a tweet that “We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”
Other hijacked accounts include Mike Bloomberg, and cryptocurrency platforms Coinbase, Gemini, and Binance. The accounts falsely announced they had partnered up with an organization called CryptoForHealth which claims it was going to provide people with bitcoin as long as they sent some to an address first.Ending up with a cool 110k.