Twitter hack: Compromised accounts will remain blocked until investigation completes, internal system access limited

Twitter says the attack is "a coordinated social engineering attack" that targetted its employees with access to internal systems and tools.

Late last night, Twitter accounts of some high-profile users like Kim Kardashian, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Kanye West, Bill Gates, among others, were hacked to solicit digital currency.

U.S. President Barack Obama talks to members of the media as he receives a briefing on the response to the Zika virus at the Oval Office in the in Washington, U.S., July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX2J92G

Former US President Barack Obama. Image: Reuters

Minutes after the news of hijack broke, Twitter acknowledged the issue and the company CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that the company was diagnosing the problem and pledged to share “everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”

As promised Twitter has been sharing timely updates of the development into the hijack.

Twitter blocked the ability to tweet for all users immediately after the attack was known. It also reset passwords and blocked other functionalities as it tried to figure out what caused the hijack.

A few minutes later, the Twitter team figured out that the hijack was limited to verified accounts only. The ability to tweet was restored for most accounts eventually.

Twitter also said that the attack looked like "a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools."

Twitter says that immediately after it figured out the pattern, it locked down the accounts of users who were affected and took down posts by the hijackers.

Now, as of Twitter's last update, the compromised accounts have been locked. Twitter says it will restore access to the original account owner only when it's certain that they can use the account securely.

Additionally, Twitter says it has also made some changes internally with limit access to internal systems and tools.

While Twitter's investigation is still ongoing, some experts believe that the hackers had access to the platform’s internal infrastructure “It is highly likely that the attackers were able to hack into the back end or service layer of the Twitter application,” said Michael Borohovski, director of software engineering at security company Synopsys. “If the hackers do have access to the backend of Twitter, or direct database access, there is nothing potentially stopping them from pilfering data in addition to using this tweet-scam as a distraction,” he said.

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