French police make arrest in hijacking of Obama's Twitter account

'Hacker Croll' allegedly tampered with Twitter accounts of Britney Spears, CNN's Sanchez

An unemployed Frenchman who used the online handle Hacker Croll has been arrested by French police for hijacking President Obama's Twitter account and the accounts of numerous other celebrities, according to news service Agence-France Presse.

The arrest, in France's Puy-de-Dome region, came after a months-long joint investigation by the FBI and French law enforcement authorities, the report said.

The 25-year-old hacker, who was in custody in the city of Clermont-Ferrand, was previously known to local police for "minor scams" totaling about $20,000. He was scheduled to appear in court June 24, the AFP said.

However, Hacker Croll's attacks on Twitter and other targets, such as Facebook and Google e-mail accounts, don't appear to be financially motivated, the report said. The hacker's arrest stemmed from an FBI tip alerting local police to his presence in France last year, AFP said.

The attacks on Obama's Twitter account and the accounts of more than 30 other celebrities and organizations took place last January. Among those whose Twitter accounts were hijacked were Britney Spears and CNN reporter Rick Sanchez.

In a blog post following the attacks, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said 33 accounts had been broken into by someone who had "hacked" Twitter's own support tools. The hijacked accounts were then used to send mostly offensive messages that purported to come from the owners of the accounts.

Hacker Croll again made the news last July after he broke into a Gmail account belonging to an administrative assistant of Twitter's Stone. The hacker then used that account to access the employee's Google Apps account and steal hundreds of pages of Twitter internal documents, including sensitive financial projections. The illegally accessed documents were then forwarded to numerous Web sites, some of which later published the documents.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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