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US Authorities Extradite UK Citizen Behind 2020 Twitter Hack, SIM Swap Crypto Theft

Joseph O’Connor, a U.K. national who was responsible for the infamous 2020 Twitter hack, has been extradited to the United States to face multiple cybercrime charges. O’Connor has pled guilty to the charges, which include conducting a SIM swap attack to steal cryptocurrency, hacking Twitter, conducting computer intrusions, and cyberstalking.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York made the announcement on Tuesday. In a statement, they revealed that O’Connor had used his advanced technological skills for malicious purposes. He had conducted a complex SIM swap attack to steal cryptocurrency, hacked Twitter accounts, and taken over social media accounts. He even went as far as cyberstalking two victims, including a minor.

During the 2020 Twitter hack, high-profile Twitter accounts, including CoinDesk’s, were taken over and used to promote a Bitcoin giveaway scam. The attackers managed to hide scam warning responses, including from Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, and amassed around 11.3 BTC ($103,960) from the fraudulent activity, despite some accounts having multi-factor authentication enabled.

An associate of O’Connor’s, Florida resident Graham Ivan Clark, who also participated in the attack, was arrested in March 2021 and tried as a young offender. O’Connor, who is 23 years old, was charged by the SDNY and pled guilty for his role in SIM-swapping attacks targeting high-profile executives in the cryptocurrency industry. He was responsible for the theft of $794,000 in digital assets.

The SDNY did not name the company but stated that it provided wallet infrastructure and related software to cryptocurrency. It is not the first time that targeted crypto companies have fallen victim to these attacks, with BlockFi being one of the latest to be hit.

Victims of SIM swap attacks have sued telecoms such as AT&T and T-Mobile over the lack of internal security measures that have allowed these attacks to take place. The extradition and conviction of O’Connor send a clear message that cybercriminals will be held accountable for their actions, regardless of where they are in the world.

In conclusion, cybercrime is a growing threat, and the extradition and conviction of O’Connor serve as a reminder that the authorities are actively pursuing those who engage in such activities. As companies continue to adopt digital technologies and store sensitive data online, it is crucial that they prioritize cybersecurity to protect themselves and their customers from malicious actors.


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