Extorted out of a $50 000 Twitter handle

Update (2014-02-26): The Next Web has reported that Hiroshima is once again in control of his envious Twitter handle, @N.


A good Twitter handle is an increasingly valuable part of your online identity and if you were fortunate enough to register a very short or common name for your Twitter handle, it could be that much more valuable. Naoki Hiroshima was one of those really fortunate people and he published a cautionary tale on Medium involving GoDaddy, PayPal, a devious extortionist’s social engineering and poor security. The story begins with this –

I had a rare Twitter username, @N. Yep, just one letter. I’ve been offered as much as $50,000 for it. People have tried to steal it. Password reset instructions are a regular sight in my email inbox. As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up.

If your social profiles are important to you, make sure you safeguard them adequately. Security measures may add more complexity but they exist to prevent attacks like this one. What I found particularly interesting was Hiroshima’s recommendation not to use a custom domain-based email address as your notification address because it can be susceptible to this sort of attack.


p>This may not be feasible for corporate accounts but it is certainly something to plan for.

Published by Paul Jacobson

Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at @automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

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