31 July 2020
A recent hack of Twitter saw the likes of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates and Elon Musk tweeting out that they were going to double any payment to their BTC address.
The tweets appeared between 20:00 and 23:00 UTC on 15th July 2020.
Prior to Coinbase blocking the hackers BTC wallet, it is believed that 14 users had sent up to $3000 in BTC to the hackers address. The subsequent blacklist prevented a further 1000 users sending nearly $300,000 before the tweets were removed. Coinbase said that they blocked transactions very shortly after they became aware of the fake posts.
Beyond Coinbase, the hackers were able to collect around $120,000 worth of BTC in total from unfortunate users.
It’s unclear who sent Bitcoin to these scammers as a result of these tweets or whether all the proceeds were from the scam. There is some speculation that the scammers sent money to their own BTC wallet to create a false sense of authenticity.
Regardless, this remains a staggering amount of money lost by users across multiple exchanges. Due in part to their own lack of action but also tools accessible by twitter employees who provided the gateway for the hackers to make the posts to prominent users’ accounts, such as Kanye West and Jeff Bezos.
As an initial reaction, Twitter blocked a number of verified accounts from making tweets and from changing their passwords. Twitter has now limited the access to these internal systems in hope of preventing such a coordinated attack in the future, as well as blocking users from being able to post the addresses of their Bitcoin wallets.
The US has taken significant interest in the security breach, demanding a full brief from Twitter, following an internal investigation. It intends to discover the full cause of the breach as well as determine if the steps Twitter intends to take to prevent future issues are comprehensive enough.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that it had been a ‘Tough day for us at Twitter’ and reassured users ‘We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.’
Spotting scams and hacks like this can be difficult, because we’ve come to expect that large companies like Twitter are infallible. But, we’ve all heard the saying that if something’s too good to be true, it usually is. It’s important to be critical when seemingly great offers like this come around, regardless of where they are from. Take a look at the account’s previous tweets, does this look like something they would do? Have they spoken about using bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies before? Also, take a look at any replies that might provide some insight into whether it’s a genuine tweet or not.
Twitter has since confirmed that its employees were targeted just hours before the hacked accounts posted their tweets. The hackers were able to obtain phone numbers of Twitter staff and trick them into giving out usernames and passwords. These login details mean that the hackers now had access to Twitter’s internal systems.
Twitter has confirmed the Bitcoin scammers targeted 130 Twitter accounts, tweeted from 45, and accessed the DM inbox of 36.