When Naoki Hiroshima sent out a tweet to his roughly 36,000 Twitter followers on Tuesday, it may have surprised many that his username was once again @N – a coveted handle that was extorted from him by an attacker at the end of January.
In a Wednesday email correspondence, Hiroshima – who became @N_is_stolen for a stint after relinquishing his username – told SCMagazine.com that a Twitter representative contacted him and asked what he wanted to do about the @N account.
“It was a weird question, but I thought maybe the support guy who will finally handle the case doesn't know much about my claim,” Hiroshima said. “So, I told him that I want Twitter to replace @N_is_stolen with @N as it used to be. A moment later, I became @N again, like magic.”
Hiroshima's @N Twitter username is a prized possession that he has owned since 2007. The name is so highly desired that not only has there been several other attempts to steal it, but Hiroshima has received requests to purchase it for as much as $50,000.
In an extensive January blog post chronicling the ordeal, Hiroshima explained that an attacker used social engineering techniques against GoDaddy and PayPal in order to gain control over Hiroshima's GoDaddy web domains, as well as his Facebook account.
The attacker offered Hiroshima a choice: he could do nothing and run the risk of never seeing his accounts again, or he could give up the Twitter handle and get his accounts back untouched, as well as find out exactly how the attackers were able to carry out the elaborate scheme and what to do to prevent it from happening again.