Joseph James O’Connor, 24, a UK citizen, was responsible for one of the biggest social media hacks in 2020, where Twitter accounts of several celebrities and verified accounts were hacked for posting about a “double your cryptocurrency” scam.
O’Connor was kept in pre-trial custody for two years and faced a trial in a New York Federal court where he was sentenced to five years in prison after he pled guilty to Computer hacking, wire fraud, and cyberstalking of two victims (one of them was a minor).
The Biggest Hack and Prison Sentence
O’Connor was known by his online alias PlugWalkJoe. He belonged to a threat group that was responsible for hacking into many brand accounts, including Apple, Binance, and high-profile accounts like Bill Gates, Joe Biden, and Elon Musk, using them for a cryptocurrency scam in July 2020.
The group used Vishing (VoIP or Voice Phishing) social engineering techniques to trick Twitter employees into that they were calling from Twitter’s IT department and gaining access to Twitter’s Network.
Graham Ivan Clark, known by the name Kirk, was also part of this hack.
Once the group gained access to Twitter’s network, Graham abused an internal admin tool to reassign Twitter accounts of high-profile users.
Twitter faced allegations of having low concern about cybersecurity controls. The company then implemented hardware security keys for the employees to prevent such future incidents.
Months after this data breach, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko was hired as the head of security at Twitter.
After investigating, Zatko mentioned that the hackers gained “god mode” in this attack and became imposters of several high-profile accounts for pulling a large scam.
Zatko accused his former employer (Twitter) of cybersecurity failure, making this one of the largest hacks on a social media platform.
In a post published by TechCrunch, they mentioned that Twitter auto-replied with a “poop” emoji when they asked for comments about this.
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