A man who sent seizure-inducing tweets to Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald has been arrested after investigators were able to discover his iCloud account — despite the fact that he used an anonymous Twitter account on a prepaid SIM card, purchased with cash.
Details about cyber attacker John Rivello’s identity were almost impossible to find due to the lack of identifiable information associated with either the Twitter account or his SIM purchase. However, investigators were able to find through carrier AT&T that the phone which sent the tweet was an iPhone 6.
With a search warrant, they then discovered which iCloud account this phone was linked to, and were able to link it back to John Rivello of Salisbury, Maryland. A search of Rivello’s iMessages and photos demonstrated an interest in Eichenwald.
Rivello has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, said Brittany Dunn with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. Eichenwald’s lawyer told CNN, “We consider the message like a bomb or sending anthrax to someone in the mail.”
In all, it’s a pretty crazy example of the challenges of staying anonymous in a connected world — and of the power of high-tech policing.
Given Apple’s pro-privacy stance on phone hacking, it’s also worth noting that Apple does routinely cooperate with legal search warrants for iCloud accounts. In the first half of 2016, it provided data on 7,963 accounts.
Source: The Verge