Mega Twitter hack

  • IASbaba
  • July 17, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges 
  • Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Mega Twitter hack

What was the Twitter hack all about?

  • On July 15th, many high-profile accounts started tweeting a message saying any bitcoin sent to a link in the tweet will be sent back doubled
  • Among the affected names are former president Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Uber & Apple Twitter handles
  • Even when Twitter deleted such tweets, the accounts tweeted again within minutes.
  • In the four-odd hours the tweets were live, the Bitcoin wallet promoted in the tweets received over $100,000 via at least 300 transactions.

Image Source: Indian Express

How did the hack happen?

  • Early suggestions are the hackers managed to access administration privileges, which allowed them to bypass the passwords of any account they wanted.
  • Twitter has said that hack is believed to be a co-ordinated social-engineering attack by persons who successfully targeted some of their employees who had access to internal systems and tools
  • “Social-engineering” could mean one of several things.
  • It might imply a targeted phishing operation – a common tactic employed by cyber-criminals, who find out which individuals have the keys to a system and then target them with personal emails that trick them into handing over details.
  • Or it might mean the perpetrators managed to convince one or several staff members to go rogue, by offering a financial inducement or other means.
  • The exact details of how the cyber-attack happened is not yet fully known

What are implications of this security incident?

  • It was an unprecedented attack on privacy, trust and security.
  • It had huge impact as the tweets had a reach of at least 350 million people.
  • Being the platform of choice for some of the most powerful and prominent people in the world, the attack on Twitter will cost its reputation 
  • This hack shows just how vulnerable social-media platforms are 
  • It also shows how vulnerable users are to disinformation (who paid in bitcoins)
  • 2020 being election year in USA, there are now valid questions about whether Twitter can be relied upon in the lead up to elections

Way Ahead – what steps needs to be taken?

  • As social media platforms are also used as warning systems, and for publication of news, they need to be extra careful with security.
  • Social media platforms also need to have contingency plans ready
  • Social media companies need to spend more on security (there is no law regarding this as of now).
  • There is need for comprehensive & strict laws about cyber security
  • India is still to come out with a national cybersecurity policy or mandate companies to do such checks


As more people adjust to online activities, there is a need to look at cybersecurity as a necessary spend.

Did You Know?

  • Beyond a potential loss of trust, Twitter may now face legal consequences too.
  • The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) says organisations such as Twitter have to show “appropriate” levels of security.
  • And if data-protection officers judge that Twitter failed to take adequate measures to protect European users, it could be fined.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critical analysis of Social Media
  • EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Justice B. N. Srikrishna Committee report on data protection regime

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