Twitter accounts were hacked to advertise Bitcoin scams on Wednesday.
James Martin / CNET
Twitter removes images from the social network that could indicate how attackers have carried out a large hacking spree on the platform. On Wednesday,by prominent users, including Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Kanye West and Jeff Bezos, to promote Bitcoin scams.
While Twitter hacks are nothing new, the social network often experiences them– The repeated and unique topic of account takeovers on Wednesday suggests an effort going beyond that last August.
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"Given the fact that numerous high-profile Twitter accounts – accounts that would probably be protected by multi-factor authentication and secure passwords – have been compromised as a result of this attack, it is very likely that the attackers would be in the back-end or the service layer were able to hack the Twitter application, "said Michael Borohovski, director of software engineering at Synopsys, a cyber security company.
Twitter said the attack came from hackers who compromised one of its employees' accounts.
"We have found that we believe it is a coordinated social engineering attack by people who have successfully attacked some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools," said Twitter in a statement Wednesday.
The company is currently investigating what other access the attackers had after getting their hands on Twitter's internal tools.
(Tips for securing your Twitter account can be found here.)
Posters in a hacking forum for the sale of coveted Twitter handles on Wednesday showed screenshots of the Twitter management area, in which internal details such as the email addresses registered with accounts, the time of the last access to the account and the related Phone numbers were displayed. The number of strikes logged for each account was also displayed.
A screenshot of the admin panel released with CNET.
Alfred Ng / CNET
The screenshots were first reported by motherboard and shared with CNET by a user on the forum.
"They forced me to delete the tweet and they prohibited me from tweeting or interacting with anyone on the website for 12 hours," said the person who shared the screenshots.
The images are removed from Twitter for violating the site's rules as they contain personal information, including account contact information.
Another user's account details in the alleged internal Twitter area.
Alfred Ng / CNET
The thread with Twitter's internal tools has been removed, according to the user. It is unclear how hackers could get screenshots of Twitter's internal tools.
Legislators are already asking for answers from the social network. Missouri Republican Josh Hawley, a Republican, sent a letter to Twitter asking the Department of Justice and the FBI for help with the investigation.
The letter asked Twitter to state whether the hacking campaign violated users or Twitter's internal systems.
"I'm concerned that this event is not just a coordinated series of separate hacking incidents, but rather a successful attack on Twitter's security itself," said Hawley. "As you know, millions of your users rely on your service to not only tweet publicly but also communicate privately through your direct messaging service. A successful attack on your system's servers poses a threat to your users' overall privacy and data security . ""