The US Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday revealed that hackers used SIM swapping to take over its X (formerly Twitter) account.
The hack occurred on January 9, when a post sent from the agency’s @SECGov account on the social platform announced that a long-awaited bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) was approved. The post caused the price of bitcoin to spike more than $1,000.
Shortly after the post, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler announced on his personal account that the SEC’s account had been compromised and that the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded products had not been approved.
On January 12, the watchdog revealed that the hackers gained unauthorized access to the account shortly after 4:00 pm ET on January 9.
Immediately after identifying the incident, SEC staff deleted the hackers’ post, announced that the account had been compromised, and reached out to X, which terminated the unauthorized access between 4:40 pm ET and 5:30 pm ET.
In a Monday update, the SEC revealed that the hackers tricked its telecom carrier to transfer the phone number associated with the X account to a SIM card in the attackers’ possession, and then used the phone number to reset the password for the @SECGov account.
The account, the agency explains, had multi-factor authentication (MFA) disabled by X support since July 2023, when SEC staff had issues accessing the account. MFA was re-enabled after the incident.
The watchdog underlined that the hack did not occur via its systems and that it has found no evidence that the attackers gained access to SEC “systems, data, devices, or other social media accounts”.
The SEC contacted law enforcement immediately after the incident and it has been working with the authorities in investigating the attack.
“Among other things, law enforcement is currently investigating how the unauthorized party got the carrier to change the SIM for the account and how the party knew which phone number was associated with the account,” SEC says.