Biden, Barack Obama, Kanye West and multiple billionaires’ Twitter accounts targeted in major bitcoin hack
On Wednesday, July 15, several high-profile Twitter accounts were reportedly hacked. These accounts included Apple, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, former president Barack Obama, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, former New York City mayor, and billionaire Mike Bloomberg, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Tweets posted from all the accounts were similar. They asked followers to send bitcoin to a specific address.
Musk was reportedly the first high-profile account to be hacked. A tweet posted early Wednesday afternoon said he was feeling “generous because of COVID-19” and promised to double any payments sent to the bitcoin address in the next one hour. Bill Gates’ account similarly tweeted, “Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time.” The tweets have since been deleted.
Musk has been the target of bitcoin scammers on Twitter before as well. On several occasions, scammers have created fake accounts designed to look like Musk and responded to his tweets promoting the scams so that they appear legitimate.
A spokesperson for Gates 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 working to restore the account.”
Uber, in a statement, said that it had been “hit by a scammer”. The company said it was “working directly with @Twitter” to figure out what happened. Twitter Support’s official account, following this, announced, “We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.”
According to a report in Verge, it’s yet unclear how widespread the operation is. Security researchers, speaking to TechCrunch, however, said that the attackers had fully taken over the victims’ accounts, and also changed the email addresses associated with the accounts to make it harder for the real users to regain access.
Rachel Tobac, the CEO of cybersecurity firm SocialProof Security, told NBC News that the attack was likely the largest Twitter had ever seen.“I’m surprised Twitter hasn’t gone completely dark to prevent misinformation campaigns and political upheaval,” Tobac said. “We are lucky the attackers are going after bitcoin (money motivated) and not motivated by chaos and destruction.”
According to a CNBC report, a wallet linked to in the tweets had apparently received over 12 bitcoin, worth over $110,000 at the current exchange rate.
What is notable is that earlier on Wednesday, several cryptocurrency accounts reportedly simultaneously linked to a phishing site called CryptoForHealth. Cameron Winklevoss, a co-founder of Gemini, a cryptocurrency market, following this, tweeted: “All major crypto Twitter accounts have been compromised.”
Tyler Winklevoss, Gemini’s other co-founder, tweeted, “WARNING: @Gemini's Twitter account, along with a number of other crypto Twitter accounts, has been hacked. This has resulted in @Gemini, @Coinbase, @Binance, and @Coindesk, tweeting about a scam partnership with CryptoForHealth. Do not click the link! These tweets are scams.”
A spokesperson for Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange that provides a platform for trading various cryptocurrencies, said to the press: “The security team is actively investigating the situation of this coordinated attack on the crypto industry.”