A hacker broke into the email account of a Twitter administrative employee and gained access to the employee’s Google Apps account, where the company shares spreadsheets and documents. The hacker then sent documents about company plans and finances, confidential contracts, and job applicants to two tech news blogs. The disclosed information included personal information about Twitter employees, including credit card numbers. The hacker also broke into the e-mail account of the wife of Twitter’s chief executive and from then accessed several of his personal Internet accounts, including those at Amazon and PayPal.
One of the blogs disclosed that the documents show that Twitter projects that it will reach a billion users and $1.54 billion in revenue by 2013. The documents also show information about potential business models, the competitive threat from Facebook, and when the company might be acquired.
The hacker managed to launch the attacks by correctly answering personal questions that Gmail asks users in order to reset their password. The hacker claims to want to teach people to be more careful.
While Twitter users were not affected, some became victims of a separate attack to have them pay $49.95 for a fake anti-virus software.
See, "Twitter Hack Raises Flags on Security," New York Times, July 15, 2009, at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/technology/internet/16twitter.html; "Twitter hacked; confidential documents stolen," San Jose Mercury News, July 15, 2009, at http://www.mercurynews.com/topstories/ci_12844562.