Celebrity accounts accessed after employees fall for tech support scam

The hackers who took over a number of high profile Twitter accounts, including those belonging to Barack Obama and Elon Musk, for several hours this summer gained entry into Twitter’s internal systems simply by posing as company IT officials making a support call, according to an investigative report Wednesday by New York regulators.



Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian are posing for a picture: From left clockwise, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian and Joe Biden


© Getty Images/AP
From left clockwise, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian and Joe Biden

At the time of the July 15 attack, Twitter had no chief information security officer and suffered from poor internal security controls, the report concluded.

Loading...

Load Error

Officials behind the report called for additional cybersecurity regulation of major tech platforms.

“In other industries that are deemed critical infrastructure, such as telecommunications, utilities, and finance, we have established regulators and regulations to ensure that the public interest is protected,” said the report from New York’s Department of Financial Services. “With respect to cybersecurity, that is what is needed for large, systemically important social media companies.”

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken steps to enhance the security of its platform, cooperated with the Department’s investigation, and that multiple arrests have been carried out in the wake of the attack.

“Protecting people’s privacy and security is a top priority for Twitter, and it is not a responsibility we take lightly,” the statement said. “We have been continuously investing in improvements to our teams and our technology that enable people to use Twitter securely. This work is constant and always evolving.”

The high-profile hack saw several celebrity accounts taken over by a bitcoin scam that promised victims a 100% return on their investments. In addition to Obama and Musk, the hackers were able to take over accounts belonging to Joe Biden, Kim Kardashian West, Uber and Apple, among others. As one of the nation’s

Twitter suspends phony accounts posing as Black Trump supporters

Oct. 14 (UPI) — Social platform Twitter said it has suspended phony accounts that boast about belonging to Black Americans who enthusiastically support President Donald Trump.

The accounts have been suspended for violating Twitter policies against spam and misinformation, a company spokesperson said.

One account with the name @CopJrCliff, which attracted 24,000 followers and was liked 75,000 times in a matter of days, claimed to be a Pennsylvania police officer and included the message, “Yes, I’m Black and I’m voting for Trump.” It also included a photo of a Black officer with Trump.

The officer in the photo was actually Portland, Ore., police officer Jakhary Jackson, who told The Washington Post he doesn’t have a Twitter account. He sent his driver’s license and social security information to Twitter to prove his identity and the company suspended the account.

Darren Linville, a social media researcher at Clemson University, said a network of other phony accounts with identical language indicating Black support for Trump had generated 265,000 retweets and mentions before the platform’s censors could put a stop to them. It’s a trend experts call “digital blackface.”

“It’s asymmetrical warfare,” Linvill said. “They don’t have to last long. And they are so cheap to produce that you can get a lot of traction without a whole lot of work. Thank you, Twitter.”

A Twitter representative told CNBC it is constantly on the hunt for such fake accounts and suspend them as soon as they are identified.

“Our teams are working diligently to investigate this activity and will take action in line with the Twitter Rules if tweets are found to be in violation,” the company said.

“Presently, we’ve taken action on some tweets and accounts for violations of our policies on platform manipulation and spam.”

Twitter said last week it expanded its

Paypal to charge customers for inactive accounts

The new fee will be introduced from 16 December. Credit: Getty.
The new fee will be introduced from 16 December. Photo: Getty.

PayPal (PYPL) is set to charge customers up to £12 ($16) a year if they do not use their accounts.

The inactive account fee will begin on 16 December 2020 and customers will be charged if they have not logged in or sent, received or withdrawn money for at least 12 consecutive months.

But customers can avoid being charged by logging into their PayPal account or making a transaction on or before 15 December.

Moneysavingexpert founder Martin Lewis warned customers of the new charge in a tweet yesterday.

He said: “Paypal users warning. It is going to introduce a £12 inactivity fee.”

His team have put together a guide on how the charge works and how to avoid it.

If an account has been inactive for more than a year then the account holder will be charged £12 or their entire PayPal balance, if it is less than £12.

If there is no money in the Paypal account or the balance is negative there will be no charge.

Watch: PayPal Has Focused on Pay Parity, Equality, EVP Says

PayPal said it will warn inactive customers of the pending fee by sending notifications 60 days, 30 days and then seven days before the fee is set to be charged.

The online payment company said it had no plans to close inactive accounts with no balances. 

READ MORE: Pearson sales fall despite rise in online courses

Moneysavingexpert advises customers to login to their account before the deadline to avoid the charge or to close their account altogether. An

Twitter suspends accounts claiming to be Black Trump supporters over spam, manipulation

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc on Tuesday said it had suspended a number of accounts that claimed to be owned by Black supporters of President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign, saying the accounts broke its rules on spam and platform manipulation.

“Our teams are working diligently to investigate this activity and will take action in line with the Twitter Rules if Tweets are found to be in violation,” a spokeswoman for the social media company said.

A review by Reuters of some of the suspended accounts showed they often used images of real people that did not match their names and posted identical language in their messages, including the phrase: “YES IM BLACK AND IM VOTING FOR TRUMP!!!”

The accounts sometimes claimed to be owned by military veterans or members of law enforcement.

Darren Linvill, a social media disinformation researcher at Clemson University who said he had been tracking the accounts since Saturday, found more than two dozen accounts that collectively had 265,000 retweets or Twitter mentions. He said the accounts ranged in size but some had attracted tens of thousands of followers.

Twitter declined to specify the number of accounts suspended or to comment beyond its statement.

Twitter’s policy against platform manipulation and spam prohibits coordination among accounts to artificially influence conversation, including the use of multiple or fake accounts.

Linvill said some of the accounts used photos of Black American men that had appeared in news articles. Some used identical images of Trump as their header image.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the investigation, which was first reported by the Washington Post.

Linvill told Reuters that most of the accounts were created in 2017, but had become more active in the past two months. He said all the accounts

Facebook removes fake accounts linked to conservative group

By David Klepper | Associated Press

Facebook has removed 276 accounts that used fake profiles to pose as right-leaning Americans and comment on news articles, often in favor of President Donald Trump, the company announced Thursday.

The platform also permanently banned an Arizona-based digital communications firm that it said was behind the fake accounts.

The move was prompted by reporting last month in The Washington Post that a pro-Trump group known as Turning Point Action was paying teenagers to post coordinated, supportive messages, a violation of Facebook’s rules.

Facebook and Twitter have been regularly removing fake accounts — both domestic and foreign — that try to insert themselves in the U.S. political discourse and influence the election. But social media companies face broader threats around misinformation and voter suppression that at times come from President Donald Trump himself.

The latest network Facebook removed became active before the 2018 midterm elections and went dormant until June when the accounts began posting on topics including the coronavirus pandemic, criticism of the Democratic Party and its nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as praise for Trump and other Republicans.

“So sick of democrats continuing to make republicans look bad! It makes me tired of politics and I just believe Republicans are much more humble when it comes to money because Democrats will do anything to screw over Americans,” read one post that Facebook cited as an example.

Individuals behind the accounts used stock photos to create fake profiles, many of which were removed by Facebook’s automated detection software. Facebook determined that the accounts were being coordinated by Rally Forge, an Arizona-based firm.

“Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation linked this activity to Rally Forge,” Facebook said.

While Facebook’s investigation cited Rally Forge’s