Police Arrest Frenchman Responsible for Hacking Twitter Accounts of Obama and Others

Last July, a minor controversy erupted when tech blog TechCrunch received internal corporate documents regarding Twitter and Twitter employees in email. Now, the man responsible for the hacking has been arrested.



The man, using the name “Hacker Croll,” sent a zip file of 310 internal documents to the tech site, which caused an ethical journalistic dilemma: the files were illegally accessed, but could legally be published–what to do? In the end, TechCrunch published some of the less-personal items, including bits about Twitter‘s financial situation.

But Twitter wasn’t the only target of Hacker Croll; he also gained access to the Twitter account of celebrities and other prominent figures, including then-Senator Obama. The FBI and international lawkeeping organizations took to the hunt, and eventually tracked the guy down in his home in France. But where it gets interesting is in the reactions of the law enforcement officials who apprehended the guy.

He was questioned in police custody in the central city of Clermont-Ferrand
and has been ordered to appear in court in the same city on June 24.

“He explained how he did it. He’s not a genius,” said the source.

“He was a young man spending time on the Internet. He acted as a result
of a bet, out of the defiance of the hacker. He is the sort who likes to
claim responsibility for what he has done,” added prosecutor Jean-Yves

Evidently the prosecutor was not impressed with Hacker Croll, saying further that he had “no particular expertise,” simply guessing at people’s passwords by reading about them in blogs and profiles, or by the ever-popular strategy of using the “Forgot your password?” hint system. That system, it turns out, is a gateway for anyone that wants to hack into an account–it’s incredibly easy to figure out someone’s “mother’s maiden name” or “first street address” or whatever.


The hacker will likely see a very short prison sentence if any–he didn’t secure any profit from his hackery and the maximum penalty for such crimes is only two years anyway. But it’s deeply disheartening to know that our nation’s leaders and fine celebrities are still using the name of their dog as a password. Come on, Britney Spears–you really should know better.

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law