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Twitter hackers accessed direct messages of up to 36 people, including an elected official, company says

During last week's massive Twitter hack, attackers were able to login and send tweets from 45 of the 130 accounts that were targeted and access the direct messages of up to 36 accounts, the company said Wednesday. One of the accounts that had its direct messages compromised belonged to an elected official from the Netherlands. 

Twitter did not specify which accounts were compromised, or to what degree. But the hackers were able to tweet Bitcoin links from the accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian West and dozens of other prominent figures. 

The company said hackers were able to obtain the "Your Twitter Archive" data — which includes all account activity, including direct messages — for eight accounts. Twitter did not specify which accounts were hacked to this degree, but said none of the eight accounts were verified. 

Twitter also said it believes that the hackers may have tried to sell some of the usernames they had access to. 

The company said attackers were not able to access private information, such as previous account passwords, for the "vast majority of people." However, they were able to view some personal information including email addresses and phone numbers, as those are often displayed for users within the internal support system. Attackers who were able to take over accounts may have been able to view additional information, and Twitter said that the investigation is ongoing. 

Twitter added that they believe the attackers carried out the hack by targeting certain Twitter employees through "a social engineering scheme," in which attackers manipulated "a small number of employees" and used their credentials to access the platform's internal systems. 

During the hack, various celebrities, politicians, and notable figures tweeted a rogue message telling followers to send money to a Bitcoin address with promises of donations "being sent back doubled."

Once the company was made aware of the situation, seemingly all verified Twitter users were unable to tweet from their accounts for several hours. 

Twitter said it is now further securing its systems to prevent future attacks. The company also said it is rolling out training programs for employees to "guard against social engineering tactics." 

"We're acutely aware of our responsibilities to the people who use our service and to society more generally. We're embarrassed, we're disappointed, and more than anything, we're sorry," the company said. "We know that we must work to regain your trust, and we will support all efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. We hope that our openness and transparency throughout this process, and the steps and work we will take to safeguard against other attacks in the future, will be the start of making this right."

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