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Photo illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The hackers who compromised high-profile Twitter accounts this week were a "group of young people" who connected over an interest in "owning early or unusual screen names," the New York Times reported Friday.

Why it matters: That the hackers weren't state-backed or tied to a sophisticated criminal enterprise will likely come as a relief to the public figures — among them Elon Musk, Barack Obama and Bill Gates — who were targeted. But the scheme sowed chaos and uncertainty all the same.

Details: The Times interviewed four people claiming responsibility for the hack and verified their accounts through logs of conversations held while the attack took shape, as well as bitcoin transactions only the hackers could have performed.

  • The hackers used their access to high-profile accounts to promote a scam soliciting bitcoin.
  • The characterization of the attackers as a group of young, amateur hackers who have a track record of targeting accounts with short, catchy handles like @y and @6 squares with intel that has circulated in hacking and cybersecurity circles since Wednesday's scam.

Go deeper

Twitter to label state-affiliated media accounts

Photo Illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitter will begin labeling accounts belonging to state-affiliated media outlets from countries on the U.N. Security Council, it announced Thursday.

The big picture: The new policy will affect “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content” in China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S., according to the announcement.

Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

Source: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation and jobs may get all the economic headlines, but meanwhile a big shift is taking place in the underpinnings of the world economy: The U.S. trade deficit is soaring.

What's happening: Americans' spending on imported physical goods has gone through the roof, while exports are growing slowly, making the U.S. the world's consumer of last resort.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Third Way: "Big Lie" could become "Big Coup"

Graphic: Third Way

Third Way, the center-left think tank, is urging fellow Democrats to respond to the Capitol riot with "the size, scope, and seriousness of a presidential campaign," co-founder Matt Bennett tells me.

Driving the news: "For the first time in U.S. history, a party must mount two parallel presidential campaigns: one to win the election, and the other to prevent its theft," Bennett said, calling this "a Paul Revere moment."

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