The United States imposed sanctions on two more Chinese officials and one Chinese regime entity over human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslim minorities in the far-western region of Xinjiang. The Trump administration on July 31 announced sanctions on current and former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials heading the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a regional paramilitary force under the Party, as well as the XPCC itself. The latest move builds upon sanctions issued earlier this month against four CCP officials—including a member of the CCP’s powerful Politburo Chen Quanguo—for their roles in overseeing the suppression in Xinjiang. The United Nations estimates that more than a million Uyghur Muslims have been detained in internment camps in the Xinjiang region. Survivors of the internment camps said they experienced torture, rape, and political indoctrination while…
MIAMI—A British man, a Florida man, and a Florida teen hacked the Twitter accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities, and technology moguls to scam people around the globe out of more than $100,000 in Bitcoin, authorities said Friday.
Graham Ivan Clark, 17, was arrested Friday in Tampa, where the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office will prosecute him as an adult. He faces 30 felony charges, according to a news release. Mason Sheppard, 19, of Bognor Regis, UK, and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, were charged in California federal court.
In one of the most high-profile security breaches in recent years, hackers sent out bogus tweets on July 15 from the accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked.
The tweets offered to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
“There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence,” U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California said in a news release. “Today’s charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived.”
Although the case against the teen was also investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren explained that his office is prosecuting Clark in Florida state court because Florida law allows minors to be charged as adults in financial fraud cases such as this when appropriate.
“This defendant lives here in Tampa, he committed the crime here, and he’ll be prosecuted here,” Warren said.
Twitter previously said hackers used the phone to fool the social media company’s employees into giving them access. It said hackers targeted “a small number of employees through a phone spear-phishing attack.”
“This attack relied on a significant and concerted attempt to mislead certain employees and exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to our internal systems,” the company tweeted.
After stealing employee credentials and getting into Twitter’s systems, the hackers were able to target other employees who had access to account support tools, the company said.
The hackers targeted 130 accounts. They managed to tweet from 45 accounts, access the direct message inboxes of 36, and download the Twitter data from seven. Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders has said his inbox was among those accessed.
Spear-phishing is a more targeted version of phishing, an impersonation scam that uses email or other electronic communications to deceive recipients into handing over sensitive information.
Twitter said it would provide a more detailed report later “given the ongoing law enforcement investigation.”
The company has previously said the incident was a “coordinated social engineering attack” that targeted some of its employees with access to internal systems and tools. It didn’t provide any more information about how the attack was carried out, but the details released so far suggest the hackers started by using the old-fashioned method of talking their way past security.
British cybersecurity analyst Graham Cluley said his guess was that a targeted Twitter employee or contractor received a message by phone asking them to call a number.
“When the worker called the number they might have been taken to a convincing (but fake) helpdesk operator, who was then able to use social engineering techniques to trick the intended victim into handing over their credentials,” Clulely wrote Friday on his blog.
It’s also possible the hackers pretended to call from the company’s legitimate help line by spoofing the number, he said.
By David Fischer
Focus News: Three Charged in Massive Twitter Hack, Bitcoin Scam
An American former professor was sentenced for concealing his participation in a Chinese state-run recruitment program, while a Chinese researcher pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from her employer in order to benefit China. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced details of two separate cases on July 30. Dr. James Patrick Lewis, a former West Virginia University (WVU) professor, was sentenced to three months in prison for federal program fraud, while Chen Li pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Ohio, for the benefit of herself and the Chinese communist regime. According to the DOJ, she applied to multiple Chinese state-run talent plans. For years, China’s central authorities and regional governments have rolled out talent recruitment programs, targeting promising overseas Chinese and…