Hackers Earn $100,000 After Hijacking Elon Musk And Barack Obama’s Twitter Accounts
Elon Musk and Barack Obama were just two of the high-profile celebrities whose Twitter accounts were hacked yesterday, July 15, as part of a bitcoin scam.
The accounts of Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West and Apple were also compromised. Twitter confirmed the breach on Wednesday evening, more than six hours after the hack began; those responsible for the hack are believed to have received well over $100,000 in just a few short hours.
The social networking site described the breach as a ‘coordinated social engineering attack’ on its own employees, which enabled the hackers to access ‘internal systems and tools’. Twitter is now ‘looking into’ the attack.
The hack unfolded over several hours, with the accounts of several major cryptocurrency players – including Gemini, Coinbase and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao – being hacked first.
The hackers quickly advanced to high-profile tech executives, companies, politicians and a range of celebrities, with the compromised accounts posting a series of tweets asking followers to transfer cryptocurrency to a specific bitcoin wallet in order to receive double the money in return.
The scam was worded similarly on each account, with a typical tweet stating: ‘I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes.’
All of the tweets appeared to lead back to the same digital wallet, with its balance rapidly increasing to more than 11 BTC ($100,000) in the hours that the hackers were active.
In an unprecedented move, Twitter blocked all verified accounts from tweeting – compromised or not compromised – as well as locking all compromised accounts. ‘This was disruptive, but it was an important step to reduce risk,’ the company wrote in a statement.
The company had restored most accounts by Wednesday evening, but warned it ‘may take further actions’, adding: ‘[We] will restore access to the original account owner only when we are certain we can do so securely.’
Late in the evening, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted:
Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.
The hack, which is perhaps the most widespread and coordinated hack the company has ever seen, was not only disruptive but the consequences could be far-reaching.
‘The amount of damage this could cause is very high,’ Douglas Schmidt, a computer science professor at Vanderbilt University, told The Guardian. ‘These people could hold information gleaned from the hack for ransom in the future.’
And while the motives and source of the hack are not yet known, such a large-scale attack raises huge questions about Twitter’s security and the future of the social networking site.
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