Twitter Breach Could Have 'Breathtaking Impact'

Hack could have caused chaos on Election Day
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2020 4:22 AM CDT
Updated Jul 17, 2020 6:52 AM CDT
Twitter Breach Could Have 'Breathtaking Impact'
A Twitter sign outside of the company's headquarters in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Wednesday's Twitter hack appears to have been motivated by greed, not politics—but it could still have an impact on the election, analysts say. It's not clear whether the hackers—who hijacked the accounts of Joe Biden and former President Obama, among numerous other public figures—were able to access private direct messages, but lawmakers fear that if they did, messages could be leaked to influence the election. "If hackers gained access to users' DMs, this breach could have a breathtaking impact, for years to come," Sen. Ron Wyden said Thursday, per NBC. The hackers, who used the hijacked accounts to urge people to send money to a Bitcoin address, also took over the accounts of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Kanye West, and many others, as well as those of companies including Apple and Uber.

Analysts say the breach, which gave hackers control of the accounts for around two hours, could have caused unprecedented pandemonium if it had happened on Election Day and the hackers announced coronavirus outbreaks in swing states or used Biden's account to declare that he was dropping out of the race, the New York Times reports. Cybersecurity experts say that while there is no indication that the hack was the work of a nation-state, it highlights the fact that some "critical infrastructure capable of influencing the election" is in the hands of a private company, not the government—and is vulnerable to attack. The hackers have claimed that a Twitter employee "did all the work" for them. (More Twitter stories.)

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