A major Twitter hack has targetted prominent individuals including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates in what appears to be a massive Bitcoin scam. The tweets, which solicited Bitcoin payments, promised to double whatever was transferred.
The attack also affected the Twitter accounts of leading US presidential candidate Joe Biden, former US president Barack Obama, media billionaire Mike Bloomberg, rapper Kanye West, media personality Kim Kardashian, and major tech companies including Uber and Apple.
“Feeling greatful [sic], doubling all payments sent to my BTC address!” one of Elon Musk’s now-deleted tweets read. “You send $1,000, I send back $2,000!”
Twitter’s support account first acknowledged the “security incident” in a tweet four hours ago. The social media giant suspended posting for a multitude of verified accounts, but has stated that “Most accounts should be able to Tweet again,” an hour ago.
According to the BBC, hundreds of payments, collectively amounting to over USD 100,000, have been transferred. Twitter’s price has dropped to a low of USD 34.09 in after-hours trading, down 4.37% in comparison to the day’s close. Bitcoin remains steady at USD 9,250.
“The Bitcoin space isn’t reacting much to the news,” Justin d’Anethan from FinTech platform Diginex commented. “It’s happened before and will happen again – as it has and will with fiat currencies at other times.”
Similarly, Joe Vezzani, CEO of AI crypto monitoring platform LunarCRUSH, believes that “This hack was going to happen regardless of whether or not Bitcoin existed. Bitcoin’s has a non-event for price and some cryptocurrencies are even moving up in price.”
BBC cybersecurity reporter Joe Tidy has likened the hack to a “smash and grab” operation which prioritised obtaining as much money as possible in a short period of time. He adds, “With so much power at their fingertips the attackers could have done a lot more damage with more sophisticated tweets that could have harmed an individual or organisation’s reputation.”
This latest Bitcoin scam has sparked a storm of discussion, with over 550,000 social posts from over 100,000 unique individuals about crypto going up in the last 24 hours, according to LunarCRUSH data. “Despite this potentially being looked at as a negative event, the negative event was really Twitter. The outcome was an all-time high awareness across a much broader set of individuals that have never mentioned Bitcoin before,” the company asserted in a statement.
So how did the attack happen at all? “It’s still to be determined what type of hack this was specifically. I would guess a hack of this scale would have required some kind of social engineering to gain access to a Twitter employee who has admin access,” LunarCRUSH CEO Joe Vezzani opines.
As for the longer-term ramifications of the hack, Bitcoin’s reputation may be tarnished by scams like these, which take advantage of the currency’s decentralised operations. “Bitcoin and most cryptocurrency transfers are pseudo-anonymous and irreversible,” Justin d’Anethan explains. “Even though all transactions can be seen and will forever be on record on the blockchain, identifying the person controlling an address is difficult and the transaction to that address can never be undone.”