Hackers have struck again and this time on a massive scale where the twitter accounts of many high profile personalities and companies were hacked simultaneously on Wednesday. This was orchestrated as a part of an organized cryptocurrency scam and their targets were major crypto exchanges and a few famous individuals, Bill Gates and Elon Musk to name a few. Their accounts were hacked and the hackers wanted to siphon off money using cryptocurrencies from their massive follower base, for example, Elon Musk has 37 million followers on twitter.
Massive Crypto Scam: Tesla’s Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Apple and other high-profile Twitter accounts hacked in Bitcoin scam
A tweet that read “I’m feeling generous because of Covid-19. I’ll double any BTC payment sent to my BTC address in the next hour. Good Luck, and stay safe out there!” was posted from Elon Musk’s account. A similar message was sent from Bill Gates’s twitter account and other twitter accounts that are known in the cryptocurrency industry, including CoinDesk, Kucoin, Gemini and Binance, these messages induced their followers to send them Bitcoins under the deceit of doubling their contributions. These tweets were deleted shortly after they were posted.
However, the attackers continued their malicious activity from other hacked accounts for another hour even after the news spread. After a short while, a spokesperson for Bill Gates issued the following statement which confirmed that the tweet was not posted by Bill Gates and the fact that his account has been compromised. The spokesperson said “We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates. This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware and is working to restore the account”.
The other accounts that were hijacked as a part of this crypto scam were the accounts of the former president of the United States Barack Obama, the tech supergiant Apple, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos among many others. Twitter said it was a coordinated attack targeting its employees with access to internal systems and tools, and in explained the whole conundrum in a series of tweets from their official handle. The company said that they have taken significant steps to limit access to such internal systems and tools while the company investigated the issue. Meanwhile, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted: “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened”.
Another major highlight of this issue was that even accounts which reportedly had two-factor authentication feature activated suffered the same fate. Last year when Twitter CEO’s account itself was hacked, concerns were raised regarding if any account on Twitter can actually avoid being hacked, however, Twitter fixed the issue that caused Jack Dorsey’s account to be compromised. In the process of restoring order Twitter blocked verified accounts from tweeting, non-verified account holders were still allowed to make Tweets.
The “Musk” Connection
For Tesla chief Elon Musk, this is not the first time his account had been subject to such attacks from black hats, he has been the target of bitcoin scammers for a while, most of these attackers create false accounts designed to masquerade as the Tesla CEO’s account and used this to respond to his tweets promoting bitcoin scams in order to make sure that they seem legitimate. During this latest hack, his account was the first one to be compromised. Twitter responded to this by locking some accounts that changed their handle to “Elon Musk” and later in 2018 Twitter conducted a huge sweep of their database to spot cryptocurrency scammers and then ban them from using the social media application.
Over the course of yesterday’s scam, a few unlucky people fell for this and sent money to the associated BTC address, this information is public because of the structure of these blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. It has reported by various sources that the scammers have managed to collect almost $100000 worth of bitcoin in their e-wallet through the identification number posted. Some of the amount collected was transferred to other wallets.
The seriousness of the breach
The total number of accounts hacked has made this scam possibly the biggest breach of security in Twitter’s history. This is an alarming issue because it is now clear that no account on this platform is truly safe and many of the World’s leaders and policymakers use twitter including the POTUS, if their accounts are breached it can cause problems that can have global effects. This is why the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) became involved in this event; the FBI’s field office in San Francisco said “We are aware of today’s security incident involving several Twitter accounts belonging to high profile individuals”. The law enforcement is expected to be involved in this because this scam revealed several pitfalls of social media security and their subsequent effects and the public are advised not to fall for such scams.