Man Arrested in Connection with Alleged Role in Twitter Hack

CALIFORNIA (July 21, 2021)– Spanish national police arrested a U.K. citizen Wednesday charged by U.S. law enforcement in connection with a July 2020 Twitter hack that compromised over 130 accounts, the Justice Department announced. The 2020 breach compromised dozens of high profile accounts including those of former president Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and rapper Kanye West. The suspect, Joseph O’Connor, is also charged with allegedly hacking TikTok and Snapchat user accounts as well as cyberstalking a juvenile.

Spanish national police arrested a U.K. citizen Wednesday charged by U.S. law enforcement in connection with a July 2020 Twitter hack that compromised over 130 accounts, the Justice Department announced.

The 2020 breach compromised dozens of high profile accounts including those of former president Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and rapper Kanye West. Attackers gained access to internal account management systems by targeting employees. Twitter changed security practices for its administrative tools after the hack.

The suspect, Joseph O’Connor, is also charged with allegedly hacking TikTok and Snapchat user accounts as well as cyberstalking a juvenile. Details about those incidents were not immediately clear.

O’Connor is charged by the U.S. District Court of California with nine charges in total, including making extortive and threatening communications. CyberScoop could not immediately locate an attorney for O’Connor to seek comment.

Florida teenager Graham Ivan Clark  pleaded guilty earlier this year for orchestrating the Twitter hack, which allowed him to steal more than $117,000 in cryptocurrencies by spreading cryptocurrency scams from the high profile accounts. Clark accepted a plea deal that will require him to serve three years in a juvenile facility.

In addition to Clark and O’Connor, U.S law enforcement has also charged a second Florida man in connection with the case.

O’Connor is charged with three counts of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer; two counts of intentionally accessing a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer; one count of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and, with the intent to extort from a person a thing of value, transmitting a communication containing a threat; one count of making extortive communications; one count of making threatening communications; and two counts of cyberstalking. If O’Connor is convicted, a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California and Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair of the FBI San Francisco Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI San Francisco Division is investigating the case, with assistance from the IRS-Criminal Investigation Cyber Unit; the U.S. Secret Service, San Francisco and Headquarters; and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and its REACT task force.

Assistant Deputy Chief Adrienne Rose of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Frentzen and Andrew Dawson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California are prosecuting the case.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs is providing significant assistance. The U.K.’s National Crime Agency and the Spanish National Police provided assistance in the investigation and arrest.

Source: Department of Justice and CyberNews

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