Industry News

Gizmodo Twitter Account Hack Reveals Apple’s Vulnerability to Social Engineering

News of Gizmodo’s Twitter account getting hacked last Friday , as reported by Forbes, was met with concern as to how exactly the attacker did it. With the discovery that former Gizmodo employee Mat Honan’s e-mail and Twitter accounts had been illicitly accessed, came a possible answer. It was initially suspected his passwords were not strong enough.

After strenuous digging, Honan retraced the hacker’s steps and managed to pieve this complicated story together. He gives a full account on his blog Emptyage:

“At 4:50 PM, someone got into my iCloud account, reset the password and sent the confirmation message about the reset to the trash. […]

The backup email address on my Gmail account is that same .mac email address. At 4:52 PM, they sent a Gmail password recovery email to the .mac account. Two minutes later, an email arrived notifying me that my Google Account password had changed.

At 5:00 PM, they remote wiped my iPhone

At 5:01 PM, they remote wiped my iPad

At 5:05, they remote wiped my MacBook Air.

A few minutes after that, they took over my Twitter. Because, a long time ago, I had linked my Twitter to Gizmodo’s they were then able to gain entry to that as well.”

The research pointed out that Honan was not the one at fault, but Apple’s support. “I know how it was done now. Confirmed with both the hacker and Apple. It wasn’t password related. They got in via Apple tech support and some clever social engineering that let them bypass security questions,” reads the third update to his blog post on the incident.

Honan has submitted an inquiry to Apple and is waiting for a response, though he has already been assured that the matter “had been escalated and there is now only one person at Apple who can make changes to [his] account.”

About the author

Ioana Jelea

Ioana Jelea has a disturbing (according to friendly reports) penchant for the dirty tricks of online socialization and for the pathologically mesmerizing news trivia. From gory, though sometimes fake, death reports to nip slips and other such blush-inducing accidents, her repertoire is an ever-expanding manifesto against any Victorian-like frame of thought that puts a strain on online creativity. She would like to keep things simple, but she never does.