When KrebsOnSecurity last month explored how cybercriminals were using hacked email accounts at police departments worldwide to obtain warrantless Emergency Data Requests (EDRs) from social media and technology providers, many security experts called it a fundamentally unfixable problem. But don’t tell that to Matt Donahue, a former FBI agent who recently quit the agency to launch a startup that aims to help tech companies do a better job screening out phony law enforcement data requests — in part by assigning trustworthiness or “credit ratings” to law enforcement authorities worldwide.
One day after last summer’s mass-hack of Twitter, KrebsOnSecurity wrote that 22-year-old British citizen Joseph “PlugwalkJoe” O’Connor appeared to have been involved in the incident. When the Justice Department last week announced O’Connor’s arrest and indictment, his alleged role in the Twitter compromise was well covered in the media.
But most of the coverage so far seem to have overlooked the far more sinister criminal charges in the indictment, which involve an underground scene wherein young men turn to extortion, sextortion, SIM swapping, death threats and physical attacks — all in a bid to seize control over highly-prized social media accounts.
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter this week all took steps to crack down on users involved in trafficking hijacked user accounts across their platforms. The coordinated action seized hundreds of accounts the companies say have played a major role in facilitating the trade and often lucrative resale of compromised, highly sought-after usernames.