Twitter Says Account Hack Due To Employees Falling For Phone "Spear Phishing" Attack. Pretext or Vish?

Twitter provided more info on its recent hack. Several of its employees fell for social engineering attacks through the phone. Based on the content of Twitter’s disclosure it’s not quite clear if it was pretexting or vishing that caught several employees who then enabled the attackers to go after those employees with elevated privileges. Was it a vish, (phone link) or just talking employees into giving up the info? KnowBe4’s Chief Hacking Officer, Kevin Mitnick, made pretexting infamous by using quick thinking and persuasive guile to convince target company employees (that usually want to be helpful) to successfully provide the info needed to penetrate the networks:) This is why it is SO important to train your employees so they are not duped into giving away the keys to the kingdom or not to click on phishing /vishing links.

Twitter said:
"The social engineering that occurred on July 15, 2020, targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack. A successful attack required the attackers to obtain access to both our internal network as well as specific employee credentials that granted them access to our internal support tools. Not all of the employees that were initially targeted had permissions to use account management tools, but the attackers used their credentials to access our internal systems and gain information about our processes. This knowledge then enabled them to target additional employees who did have access to our account support tools. Using the credentials of employees with access to these tools, the attackers targeted 130 Twitter accounts, ultimately Tweeting from 45, accessing the DM inbox of 36, and downloading the Twitter Data of 7. "

The statement from Twitter did not make it clear if was vishing through an sms text link or pure pretexting or talking the employees into giving up the info necessary to get access to accounts through the phone.

At this time, we believe attackers targeted certain Twitter employees through a social engineering scheme. What does this mean? In this context, social engineering is the intentional manipulation of people into performing certain actions and divulging confidential information.

"The attackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter’s internal systems, including getting through our two-factor protections. As of now, we know that they accessed tools only available to our internal support teams to target 130 Twitter accounts. For 45 of those accounts, the attackers were able to initiate a password reset, login to the account, and send Tweets. We are continuing our forensic review of all of the accounts to confirm all actions that may have been taken. In addition, we believe they may have attempted to sell some of the usernames. "


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