The Coveted Twitter Account: A Cautionary Tale

A man’s story of how a hacker stole his twitter account using social engineering.


We all know how important it is to take security seriously. Thankfully, few of us have experienced the stress of actually having an account hacked or held for ransom. Naoki Hiroshima was not so lucky.

As he recounts in the original article, he once held the coveted Twitter account handle “@N.” On January 20 of this year, he was made aware of a hacker attempting to steal the handle. It began as a text message from PayPal about a validation code which he did not initiate. He later received a message from GoDaddy that his account settings had been changed.

The hacker then proceeded to email Naoki, informing him that he was holding his websites hostage. If he did not change his handle, he would make sure the domains would never again see the light of day. “I would also like to inform you that your GoDaddy domains are in my possession, one fake purchase and they can be repossessed by godaddy and never seen again.”

Naoki’s experience with attempting to right this issue with GoDaddy were less than successful. “My claim was refused because I am not the “current registrant.” GoDaddy asked the attacker if it was OK to change account information, while they didn’t bother asking me if it was OK when the attacker did it.”

After the Twitter handle switch had been made, the hacker divulged the truth of how he was able to obtain the information to hack into Naoki’s GoDaddy account through social engineering. “I called paypal and used some very simple engineering tactics to obtain the last four of your card. I called godaddy and told them I had lost the card but I remembered the last four, the agent then allowed me to try a range of numbers.”

To avoid this situation from happening, Naoki suggests not using a custom domain email address and instead sticking with something like for logins. He also stresses the importance of two-factor authentication which he credits for keeping the hacker from gaining access to his PayPal account.

Original article by Naoki Hiroshima.
Read the full story here.

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