Tech

Twitter hacker's virtual bond hearing derailed by porn Zoom-bombing

Pornography put an abrupt end to a bail hearing for the teen accused of last month's massive Twitter security breach and Bitcoin scam.

Mugshot of Graham Clark
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

A bail hearing held over Zoom for Graham Ivan Clark, the 17-year-old Floridian accused of masterminding last month’s massive Twitter security breach of major political and celebrity accounts including Elon Musk and Barack Obama, was cut short after uninvited attendees joined the video call and streamed pornography to it. As if we needed more reminding that Zoom is a security nightmare, or that 2020 is just generally nightmarish.

Clark is still being held in jail on a $725,000 bond, an amount his lawyers hoped to appeal given their claim that the scam only netted an estimated $117,000. The case’s prosecuting attorney, meanwhile, argued that the actual end-cost of Clark’s security breach hasn’t been established yet, and may be much greater than the bail posting currently set.

“The defendant’s conduct regarding the stealing of the identities of famous people and his attempt to hijack the funds of innocent individuals in less than four hours ... occurred 20 days ago," the prosecutor, Darrell Dirks, said. "We are still discovering the breadth and depth of the defendant’s criminal conduct.”

The presiding judge couldn’t reach a decision during the video call, though, because he was forced to shut down proceedings thanks to the aforementioned unsolicited pornography.

Unknown assailants — While it isn’t clear yet who was behind the X-rated trolling session, it’s likely the culprits were peers of Clark. Namely, hackers and pranksters, possibly also in their teens. Despite only being 17-years-old, Clark allegedly managed to temporarily compromise one of the world’s largest and most influential social media platforms, resulting in verified users being unable to tweet for hours. It's not surprising other hackers would seek to disrupt his bail hearing, especially given the multiple reports of Zoom-bombing that have dogged the service and show how easy it is to hijack.

A compromised position — Beyond asking for leniency in terms of the scale of the bond, the other contention raised by Clark’s attorneys was that the teen shouldn’t have to account for his bond money’s origins, should he be able to eventually post bail. The rationale behind this is that, as it turns out, Clark was served a search warrant last August for a completely separate investigation that seized approximately 100 Bitcoin (roughly $1.2 million at current prices) from the teen as part of an agreement with California and Florida authorities in exchange for no prosecution or admittance of wrongdoing.

After canceling the Zoom session, the judge denied lowering the bond, but agreed Clark did not need to account for the money’s source. Given Clark's history, that seems absurd.