The man who hacked into the Twitter accounts of Britney Spears, Lily Allen, and President Barack Obama – just to prove that he could – has been arrested, charged, and released on bail. It took the combined effort of the FBI and French police to track him down.
Going by the online handle Hacker Croll, 25-year-old Francois Cousteix – who fancies himself a “nice pirate” – was able to access dozens of private social networking pages of various celebrities. He says he was able to do it by guessing the answers to security questions.
He said he had accessed the accounts with the passwords he found by studying published information enabling him to correctly answer security questions put to users who have forgotten their passwords. Common questions include ‘What is the name of your junior school?’ and ‘What is your date of birth?’ Jean-Yves Coquillat, state prosecutor in Auvergne, where the hacker lives, said: “He acted as the result of a bet. He is not a hacker in the strict sense of the word. He entered a house where the door was open.”
If found guilty of illegally accessing a computing system, the unemployed Francois Cousteix could face up to two years in prison, and be ordered to pay a fine of 30,000 Euros ($40,029).
Of his activities, Francois says, “I am not a hacker. I did not want to destroy anything.”
Francois Cousteix’s trial is set for June.