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Twitter hack unlikely state orchestrated: expert

London: The extraordinary hacking spree that hit Twitter on Wednesday, leading it to briefly muzzle some of its most widely followed accounts, is drawing questions about the platform's security and resilience in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election.

Twitter said late on Wednesday hackers obtained control of employee credentials to hijack accounts including those of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, former president Barack Obama, reality television star Kim Kardashian, and tech billionaire and Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Posing as celebrities and the wealthy, the hackers asked followers to send the digital currency bitcoin to a series of addresses. By evening, 400 bitcoin transfers were made worth a combined $120,000 (£95,564). Half of the victims had funds in U.S. bitcoin exchanges, a quarter in Europe and a quarter in Asia, according to forensics company Elliptic.
In a series of tweets, the company said: "We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools." The hackers then "used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf." 

The company statements confirmed the fears of security experts that the service itself - rather than users - had been compromised. One cyber security expert told that judging by what the hackers did once they gained access to the accounts, the attack was unlikely to be state orchestrated.

Twitter's role as a critical communications platform for political candidates and public officials, including President Donald Trump, has led to fears that hackers could wreak havoc with the Nov. 3 presidential election or otherwise compromise national security. 

Chief research officer, F-Secure, Mikko Hypponen said- "I think we can tell something about the attackers by just looking at what they were doing. Remembering, they would do anything on Twitter, they chose to use these quick hack mechanisms of making a little bit of bitcoin. They could have sold this access to a number of places, for example, to foreign intelligence agencies. They could have used this access to announce a merger and acquisition in the name of Bill Gates or Elon Musk, which would have immediately affected stock prices. Or I don't know, they could have waited for November until presidential elections in the United States. And then on Election Day, they could tweet something awful from one of the presidential candidates in USA, like, I don't know, black lives don't matter. Or something like that."

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