Salary Survey Extra: The Great Jack Dorsey Twitter Hack
Posted on
June 18, 2020

Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had his Twitter account hacked? That's as crazy as ... well, what exactly?

Pretty close to 11 months ago, the Twitter account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was briefly compromised. For about an hour on Aug. 30, 2019, Dorsey's feed was loaded up with rogue tweets, including racist and anti-Semitic slurs. A team of hackers collectively known as the Chuckling Squad is widely believed to have been responsible.

The entire incident is amusing on a number of levels, not least of which is that "My account got hacked" is the go-to excuse for just about any celebrity suddenly in the awkward position of having an offensive or unbecoming tweet pop through on their feed. It's also at least mildly disconcerting that the hackers hijacked Dorsey's account so easily.

The hackers didn't directly break into the account, but used a SIM swap to mimic Dorsey's cell phone and sent out the tweets using Twitter's since disabled tweet-by-text feature. The entire outlandish episode is practically forgotten at this point. In the grand scheme of things, it was a ripple in the pond, a blip on the radar of the 24-hour news cycle.

It happened right around the time that we were finalizing the launch of our annual Salary Survey, however, and that's why you're reading about it right now. Yes, this article is the fruits of another of those quirky questions that we ask (and that survey respondents are permitted to skip) at the end of the survey each year.

In this instance, the whole thing felt one of those "stranger than fiction" moments when it would have been hard to make-up something sillier. We tried, though, proposing several different unlikely events that could be compared to Dorsey's minor misadventure. Which one best expressed the feelings of certified IT professionals on the subject? Here's what we learned:

Question — Jack Dorsey's Twitter account got hacked. That's as crazy as if:

Bill Gates were to agree to arm wrestle Mark Zuckerberg for ownership of LinkedIn. — 8.8 percent
Jeff Bezos were to agree to trade places for a year with a randomly chosen Amazon warehouse employee. — 9.3 percent
Elon Musk were to make Tesla profitable. — 10.8 percent
Commander Zorbatron of the Galactic Empire were to beam down to Earth with the cure for cancer. — 3.7 percent
Donald Trump were to be elected President of the United States. Wait. What? — 14.4 percent
Actually, I don't find that hard to believe at all. — 53.0 percent

So a little more than half of the certified IT professionals who responded to the survey were all like, "Hmm. Sounds about right. Nothing to see here." And, yeah, we hear that. The hackers essentially pulled off the IT equivalent of a crank call. If they had dialed Jack Dorsey's cell number, instead of spoofing it, and Dorsey had actually picked up, the caller would have said something along the lines of "Is your refrigerator running?"

On a more whimsical level, fewer people were willing to play along with our mild clowning of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk than you might have expected from a roomful of IT die hards. And everybody was more or less like, "Commander Zorbatron? Is that a Marvel reference?" So Donald Trump it is. Fitting, we suppose, that Twitter's most high-profile patron is the nominally preferred punchline of our little joke about Twitter.

About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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