- Twitter hack in a bitcoin scam
- Profiles belonging to Elon Musk, Apple, Bill Gates, and many others were compromised
- Twitter briefly blocked access to all verified accounts
Twitter accounts of various high-profile individuals and firms were compromised in a widespread Bitcoin scam on Thursday. The official Twitter account of the former President of the United States of America Barack Obama along with American rapper Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian, Co-Founder of Microsoft Bill Gates, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Amazon Jeff Bezos, CEO of Tesla Elon Musk, Media tycoon Mike Bloomberg and many major firms such as Apple and Uber fell prey to this hack.
After the hack, the accounts tweeted trying to dupe people into donating money via Bitcoin. Twitter has briefly blocked all access to all the verified accounts (the ones with a blue tick) and is currently investigating the matter.
The tweets were marked by a similar message and asked people to donate Bitcoins promising to return a double amount.
Twitter has removed all such posts.
The post from Bill Gates’ account read, “Everyone is asking me to give back. You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000.” A similar message was posted from the accounts of several other prominent people and companies as well, specifying that the double return offer would last for 30 minutes.
All the tweets posted in the Bitcoin scam shared one of the 3 Bitcoin addresses which belong to an organization named CryptoForHealth. According to a leading British news agency the web address where some of the tweets redirected the users was registered by a cyber-attacker with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and the profile name Anthony Elias.
The report added that CryptoForHealth is a registered handle on Instagram whose profile description reads, “It was us.”
The website cannot be reached now.
Twitter has said that it is investigating the matter and will take the necessary steps to fix it. Though Twitter, for a brief moment, blocked access to almost every verified account on the platform across the globe as one of the initial steps, it later revealed that most of the accounts have now been restored.
However, there are some compromised accounts that are still locked by Twitter and their access will be restored to the original account owner when things are secure.
In a thread of tweets, Twitter revealed some key details from their investigations in this incident. It said that the hack was a result of a “coordinated social engineering attack” which targeted a few of it employes who have access to internal system and tools.
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.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2020
We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020
The micro-blogging platform said, “We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweets on their behalf. We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed,” and added, “Internally, we’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing.”
In the meantime, a report from Vice suggests that an insider from Twitter was responsible for the hack to be executed. It quoted a source saying, “We used a rep that literally done all the work for us.”
Another source revealed that the insider was paid for the task as well.
The motive behind this attack is believed to be minting money as quickly as possible. Though there are contradicting reports on how much money the hack made, a BBC report says in order to make the scam seem more legitimate, cyber-criminals usually add their own funds into their Bitcoin wallets.
When the Bitcoin addresses shared on the hacked tweets were checked on Blockchain.com, it was found that the hackers had received 373 transactions collecting 12.86252562 Bitcoins – which is equivalent to more than $118,300 (or roughly Rs. 89 lakhs).
According to a report by Bloomberg, citing a Bitcoin tracing company, almost half of the spoils have already been transferred to other Bitcoin wallets.
A report claimed, “Most of the money has reportedly come from users in the US, a quarter from Europe, and remainder from Asia.”