Naoki Hiroshima's recent loss of his single-letter Twitter handle @N to hijackers who socially engineered their way across multiple services was a stark reminder that there's a human element to security on the internet: without touching a line of code, the perpetrators allegedly took four digits of a credit card provided by a PayPal customer service representative and gave them to another rep at hosting company GoDaddy as proof of identification. In response, GoDaddy has now said on Twitter that it now requires eight credit card digits to access an account — previously, it required six — and will lock out callers after three attempts.
For Hiroshima, the change comes too late
For Hiroshima, the change comes too late: he still doesn't have access to his pilfered Twitter account, which he agreed to release to the attackers after they threatened to interfere with websites he was running. (For now, he's using @N_is_stolen.) Meanwhile, he says his domain registrations have been transferred to Namecheap.
The attack is eerily reminiscent of a similar scheme against Wired writer Mat Honan in 2012, which resulted in the loss of a significant amount of his personal data and the brief hijacking of his three-letter Twitter handle. That hack resulted in sweeping policy changes at Apple (among others) — but Hiroshima's ordeal shows how some companies caught up in security scandals are still beefing up their defenses as a reactionary measure, not a proactive one.