An unknown hacker has compromised the Twitter account of Arron Banks, the founder and chairman of the pro-Brexit campaign Leave.EU, and leaked thousands of his private messages.
The leaked data contains messages to and from a number of other people dating back several years.
In a statement, Banks has criticised the social network for apparently taking too long to respond to the incident, and said Twitter had “deliberately chosen” to leave his personal information online. The social media platform has responded, saying it had “taken steps to secure the compromised account”.
“We will continue to take firm enforcement action in line with our policy, which strictly prohibits the distribution on our service of materials obtained through hacking, ” Twitter said in a statement.
The hackers made the data available via a link, but the link is no longer online. If caught, the hacker could potentially be prosecuted under the Computer Misuse Act. One cyber expert warned that those downloading the material or making use of it would be at risk of prosecution too.
Leave.EU spokesman Andy Wigmore told the Guardian the hack had been reported to the police and they were investigating possible breaches of the Computer Misuse Act.
According to Wigmore, the police had informed him that the account was compromised by a simswap attack, this is when a hacker takes control of a phone number, which enables them to gain access to the victim’s account. Wigmore said that the content of the pilfered messages were more “gossip” more than revelations.
Earlier this year, Banks’ insurance company and Leave.EU endeavour were the subject of an audit led by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which resulted in the organisation being fined a total of £120,000 for data protection violations during the EU referendum campaign.
Although some of the leaked messages have begun to circulate online, it is unclear if they are genuine or fake. One detailed a fabricated conversation between Banks and senior a Tory cabinet minister.
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset police said: “We are investigating whether any offences have been committed under the Computer Misuse Act after we received a report that a Twitter account was compromised.”