Hackers hijack Twitter account of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offer to sell stolen data

Hackers hijack Twitter account of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offer to sell stolen data

Normally the official Twitter account of Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s Crisis Management Centre does not make for the most fascinating read.

Normally @MID_travel simply retweets messages from other Russian government departments or embassies, as it offers advice on how Russian citizens can remain safe abroad.

But on July 2nd, the account was compromised by hackers who posted the following message:

MID tweet hacked

Now, I don’t speak Russian but I’m reliably informed that whoever posted the tweet is An advertisement was published, is offering a database for sale – containing details of tourist payments made during June 2020 to the Public Services Portal of the Russian Federation.

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Anyone interested in purchasing the database is invited to pay the tidy sum of 66 bitcoins (approximately US $499,000).

Of course, simply posting that message to a Russian government Twitter account is no proof that the hackers have access to the information they claim, and no guarantee that anyone paying the substantial amount of money will find themselves in receipt of stolen data.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s Crisis Management Centre has since deleted the tweet and posted a follow-up (thankfully translated courtesy of Google), debunking the claims of a data breach.

Announcement post-hack

A database may or may not have been stolen, but there’s no doubt that an official verified Russian government Twitter account was accessed by an unauthorised party. Most likely that may be the result of a successful phishing attack, or someone making the mistake of reusing a password.

Enabling two-factor authentication on Twitter would definitely be a good idea.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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