The Dutch police recently interrogated an ethical hacker for gaining access to the Twitter account of US President Donald Trump. The prosecution is investigating whether Victor Gevers has done something criminal. “But he is not yet a suspect,” reports de Volkskrant.
Gevers was able to log into Trump’s Twitter account in mid-October, just before the US presidential elections. The president’s password was “MAGA2020!”, Derived from his slogan “Make America Great Again.” The president had also not enabled two-step verification, an additional security mechanism, according to Gevers.
“We are currently investigating whether anything criminal has happened,” said a spokesperson for the prosecution. “It is an independent Dutch investigation, so there has been no question from American justice.”
The Dutchman was able to view Trump’s messages, tweet on his behalf, and change his profile. He took screenshots while accessing the account and then alerted the president and US security forces.
Gevers is a well-known ethical hacker who voluntarily hunts for security holes. Once he finds one, he gathers evidence. He makes sure that he does not commit any criminal offenses and that he informs the owners of the data in a timely and correct manner. This is called ‘responsible disclosure’ in technical terms.
Many American media were skeptical. The White House and Twitter also denied the hack had taken place. They wanted to see more evidence. But precisely because of the strict rules on ‘responsible disclosure’, Gevers could not respond to this.
Following the interrogation, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service will now decide whether Gevers should be prosecuted. That decision can have major consequences for ethical hackers.