Just weeks after hackers gained access to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s social media accounts, those same hackers say they have claimed another prominent victim.
Hacker group OurMine said on Monday that it had gained access to the Twitter and Quora accounts of Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The members were responsible for posting tweets to Pichai’s Twitter timeline before losing access.
Those tweets have since been removed.
OurMine arrived on the scene in early June after claiming responsibility for hacking the social media accounts of Facebook’s Zuckerberg. The group ultimately defaced his accounts after it was able figure out his password, “dadada,” in a massive data dump sold on the underground Internet that revealed usernames and passwords linked to a slew of social media accounts including those on MySpace and LinkedIn (LNKD).
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This time around, however, OurMine didn’t use the same tactic to attack Pichai.
Speaking to tech site The Next Web, a representative from OurMine said that the team found an exploit in Quora, the question and answer service, that gave it access to Pichai’s account. It then apparently used the credentials obtained through that exploit to see if they would work on Twitter.
In a statement to The Next Web, OurMine, which has targeted other prominent executives, including Daniel Ek, head of streaming music service Spotify, says that it’s not really a group of hackers. Instead, it argues that it’s simply using exploits to gain access to accounts and raise awareness about security. It’s also says that it hopes that the people who it hacks will ask the group for help at securing their accounts.
“We are just testing people security, we never change their passwords, we did it because there is other hackers can hack them and change everything (sic),” an OurMine spokesperson told The Next Web.
“We are confident that Sundar Pichai’s account was not accessed via a vulnerability in Quora’s systems,” a Quora spokesperson said in a statement. “This is consistent with past reports where OurMine exploited previous password leaks on other services to gain access to accounts on Twitter or Facebook. We also have no record of a report by OurMine pointing to a vulnerability. We recommend that people use unique passwords for accounts on different services, so that a security breach on one service does not lead to attackers gaining access to accounts on other services. Safeguarding our users is very important to us, which makes security at Quora one of our highest priorities.”
So far, Pichai, who earlier this year received a $199 million stock grant from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, hasn’t commented about the hacking, and his Twitter account is now back to normal. But it looks like other technology executives should be wary.
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Update 06/27/16 at 3:50 p.m. with Quora’s statement.