Hacker gains access to secret Twitter docs

Chris Caceres · July 15, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/967

He goes by the name of Hacker Croll, and is simply trying to teach Internet users a lesson

 "No one is protected on the Net," was Hacker Croll's message to the world.

Apparently, the hack occurred in May, but yesterday, Croll, reached out to TechCrunch and a French blog titled Korben, to share the information he attained from hacking into Twitter.   This hacker is also responsible for gaining access to the accounts of Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears.

The information, which TechCrunch describes as a zip file containing 310 documents, ranges from, “executive meeting notes, partner agreements, financial projections to the meal preferences, calendars and phone logs of various Twitter employees.”

So what’s been leaked?  Well, while TechCrunch took the time to write up a secret pitch for a Twitter TV show which it published today, the French web site Korben decided to share more details about the package, including the fact Hacker Croll gained access information for some of Twitter’s accounts, including Paypal, Amazon, Apple, AT & T, and even Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter.)  Along with that, the hacker was able to access confidential contracts with Nokia, Samsung, Dell, AOL and Microsoft.

Another interesting piece of info breached by the hacker was forecasts that Twitter would grow to 350 million users at the end of 2011.

Neither of the sites have published any highly sensitive information, in fact, Korben explained,

“I am merely relaying only part of the Hacker Croll info and what I can tell the team of Twitter is that the attacker has the air of being a true hacker with a code of conduct, which will not affect the company.”

In the end, Hacker Croll seems to have no intention of harming Twitter, but instead teach users across the Web a simple lesson, “no one is protected on the Net.”  He wrote to Korben,

“Security starts with simple things like the secret questions, whose utility many people ignore, and the impact that that can have on their private lives if a pirate was able to circumvent them.”

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

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Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

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There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


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We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.