Twitter Says Hackers Accessed Direct Messages From 36 Users, Including One Dutch Elected Official

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Rachel Sandler   Forbes U.S. Staff

Twitter

Twitter said Wednesday that hackers responsible for a high-profile beach last week had access to the direct messages of 36 users, including one elected official in the Netherlands, offering a concerning look into how much information was accessed in the hack.

KEY FACTS

- Twitter said 36 out of the total 130 accounts that were targeted had their direct message inbox accessed by the hackers.

- The company said one elected official in the Netherlands had their direct messages breached, but it believes that no other current or former elected officials had their messages accessed. 

- Twitter did not name the Dutch politician, but the Wall Street Journal reported that Geert Wilders—who is known for being an Islamophobic “Dutch Donald Trump”—was reportedly a victim.

- Hackers last week hijacked accounts belonging to dozens of high-profile figures, including Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett and Elon Musk, to tweet out an unsophisticated bitcoin scam.

- Twitter has since said the hackers were able to tweet from 45 accounts, downloaded data from eight non-verified accounts using the “Your Twitter Data” tool and could view personal information such as emails and phone numbers for all the accounts targeted.

KEY BACKGROUND

Though the hack was expansive and affected some of the world’s most powerful people, the hackers behind the breach were young, individual actors who wanted to sell coveted Twitter handles such as “@y,” according to the New York Times. Twitter said the hackers got access to its internal systems with a successful “social engineering” attack on several employees. Social engineering is a technique used by hackers to dupe users into clicking on malicious links or giving away sensitive data by crafting fake emails or other messages.

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR

The FBI is investigating the hack.

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Rachel Sandler   Forbes U.S. Staff

I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. I’ve previously reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper.