AOH :: IS1559.HTM

Weak Password Brings 'Happiness' to Twitter Hacker

Weak Password Brings 'Happiness' to Twitter Hacker
Weak Password Brings 'Happiness' to Twitter Hacker 

By Kim Zetter 
Threat Level
January 06, 2009

An 18-year-old hacker with a history of celebrity pranks has admitted to 
Monday's hijacking of multiple high-profile Twitter accounts, including 
President-Elect Barack Obama's, and the official feed for Fox News.

The hacker, who goes by the handle GMZ, told Threat Level on Tuesday he 
gained entry to Twitter's administrative control panel by pointing an 
automated password-guesser at a popular user's account. The user turned 
out to be a member of Twitter's support staff, who'd chosen the weak 
password "happiness."

Cracking the site was easy, because Twitter allowed an unlimited number 
of rapid-fire log-in attempts.

"I feel it's another case of administrators not putting forth effort 
toward one of the most obvious and overused security flaws," he wrote in 
an IM interview. "I'm sure they find it difficult to admit it."

The hacker identified himself only as an 18-year-old student on the East 
Coast. He agreed to an interview with Threat Level on Tuesday after 
other hackers implicated him in the attack.

The intrusion began unfolding Sunday night, when GMZ randomly targeted 
the Twitter account belonging to a woman identified as "Crystal." He 
found Crystal only because her name had popped up repeatedly as a 
follower on a number of Twitter feeds. "I thought she was just a really 
popular member," he said.

Using a tool he authored himself, he launched a dictionary attack 
against the account, automatically trying English words. He let the 
program run overnight, and when he checked the results Monday morning at 
around 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, he found he was in Crystal's account.


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