A number of high-profile Twitter accounts were simultaneously hacked on Wednesday by attackers who used the accounts some with millions of followers to spread a cryptocurrency scam.
Apple, Elon Musk and Joe Biden were among the accounts compromised in a broadly targeted hack that remained mysterious hours after taking place. Those accounts and many others posted a message promoting the address of a bitcoin wallet with the claim that the amount of any payments made to the address would be doubled and sent back a known cryptocurrency scam technique.
In the hours following the initial scam posts, Kim Kardashian West, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Wiz Khalifa, Warren Buffett, YouTuber MrBeast, Wendys, Uber, CashApp and Mike Bloomberg also posted the cryptocurrency scam.
Screenshot via Twitter
While were still learning more specifics about how the hack went down, we can report that the hacker leveraged an internal Twitter admin tool to gain access to the high-profile accounts. That reporting was soon confirmed by Twitters own account of what happened. On Wednesday evening, the company tweeted that a coordinated social engineering attack on employees gave a hacker access to internal systems and tools.
Before the scope of the incident became clear, the hack appeared to focus on cryptocurrency-focused accounts. In an initial wave of scam posts, @bitcoin, @ripple, @coindesk, @coinbaseand @binance were hacked with the same message: We have partnered with CryptoForHealth and are giving back 5000 BTC to the community, followed by a link to a website.
The linked site was quickly pulled offline. Kristaps Ronka, chief executive of Namesilo, the domain registrar used by the scammers, told TechCrunch that the company suspended the domain on the first report it received. Hacked accounts shifted to sharing multiple bitcoin wallet addresses as the incident went on, making things more difficult to track.
Twitter first acknowledged the situation at 2:45 p.m. PT Wednesday afternoon, referring to it as a security incident.
At first, it appeared that some of the compromised accounts were back under their owners control as tweets were quickly deleted. But then, Elon Musks account tweeted hi after his initial tweet with the scam was deleted. The hi tweet also disappeared.
Twitter users reported seeing error messages on the platform as the situation went on. TechCrunch reporter Natasha Mascarenhas saw this error (see below) when she tried to create a threaded tweet. TechCrunch reporter Sarah Perez saw a similar error when trying to post a normal tweet. Both have verified accounts.
Twitter error message (Image: TechCrunch)
As the issues continued, many verified Twitter users also reported being unable to tweet. Around 3:15 p.m. PT, the official Twitter Support account confirmed [Users] may be unable to Tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident. By Wednesday evening, Twitter said that most tweeting should be back to normal but functionality may come and go as the company continue[s] working on a fix.
It became clear early on that this situation was not the case of a single account being compromised as weve seen in the past, but something else altogether. Even Apple, a company known for robust security, somehow fell victim to the scheme.
Apples account was also hacked. This was the accounts first tweet. (Image: TechCrunch)
Many high profile accounts were quickly hijacked in rapid succession Wednesday afternoon, including @elonmusk, the eccentric Twitter-obsessed tech figure with a notoriously engaged fanbase. A scam tweet posted to the Tesla and SpaceX founders account simply directed users to send bitcoin to a certain address under the guise that he will double any payment a known cryptocurrency scam technique. Musks account appeared to remain compromised for some time after the initial message, with follow-up posts claiming followers were sending money to the suspicious address.
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk had his Twitter account hacked to spread a cryptocurrency scam. (Image: TechCrunch)
Some Democratic political figures were also hacked as part of the cryptocurrency scam, including Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg. An official from the Biden campaign told TechCrunch that Twitter locked down the former vice presidents account immediately after it was compromised and the campaign remains in close contact with Twitter on the issue. At the time of writing, no accounts belonging to Republican politicians appear to have been hacked.
Barack Obama had his Twitter account hacked to spread a cryptocurrency scam. (Image: TechCrunch)
Wiz Khalifas account was also compromised, as was the Twitter account of popular YouTuber MrBeast, who often posts giveaways, making his re-post of the bitcoin address particularly likely to drive followers to the scam.
The hack also hit legendary investor Warren Buffet, a prominent and harsh critic of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. I dont have any cryptocurrency and I never will, Buffet told CNBC in February.
While the scope of Wednesdays Twitter hack is unprecedented on the social network, the kinds of scams the hacked accounts promoted are common. Scammers take over high-profile Twitter accounts using breached or leaked passwords and post messages that encourage users to post their cryptocurrency funds to a particular address under the guise that theyll double their investment. In reality, its simple theft, but its a scam that works.
The main blockchain address used on the scam site had already collected more than 12.5 bitcoin some $116,000 in USD and its going up by the minute.
A spokesperson for Binance told TechCrunch: The security team is actively investigating the situation of this coordinated attack on the crypto industry. Several other companies affected by the account hacks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Its not immediately known how the account hacks took place. Security researchers, however, found that the attackers had fully taken over the victims accounts, and also changed the email address associated with the account to make it harder for the real user to regain access.
Scammers frequently reply to high-profile accounts, like celebrities and public figures, to hijack the conversation and hoodwink unsuspecting victims. Twitter typically shuts these accounts down pretty fast.
A Twitter spokesperson, when reached, said the company was looking into the matter but didnt immediately comment.
This story is developing. Stay tuned for updates.
Below are screenshots of some of the hacked accounts.
- Extrapolating The Future of Cryptocurrency - hackernoon.com - September 19th, 2020
- Ditching Dinars: Will the Balkans Take to Cryptocurrency? - Balkan Insight - September 19th, 2020
- The risks of investing in cryptocurrency and how to overcome them - Telemedia Online - September 19th, 2020
- How is cryptocurrency going to be regulated in the EU? - Kalkine Media - September 19th, 2020
- Russia and Ukraine have Disproportionately High Cryptocurrency Usage with Many Locals Shifting Financial Activity to Digital Assets: Report -... - September 19th, 2020
- Will crypto trading get as regulated as the stocks or FX trading? - Crypto News Flash - September 19th, 2020
- Opinion: Can Uniswaps UNI Break Into the Top 10 Cryptocurrency Token Rankings? - CryptoPotato - September 19th, 2020
- Ditching Dinars: Will The Balkans Take To Cryptocurrency? - Analysis - Eurasia Review - September 19th, 2020
- The Rise and Fall of a Tribal Cryptocurrency - hackernoon.com - September 6th, 2020
- How Will Greece Be Impacted By Cryptocurrency? - GreekCityTimes.com - September 6th, 2020
- Justice Department Seeks To Recover Hacked Cryptocurrency Funds Tied To North Korea - Forbes - September 6th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency Prodigy, Joseph PlugWalkJoe O'Connor, Is Helping People Everywhere Master Crypto - AiThority - September 6th, 2020
- Kazakhstan in talks on $700m in cryptocurrency mining projects - Cyprus Mail - September 6th, 2020
- Akon Unveils Major Details of $6 Billion Cryptocurrency City: Real-Life Wakanda - Bitcoin News - September 6th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency Market News: Bitcoin drops to $10,460 after a significant rejection and overall weakness - FXStreet - September 6th, 2020
- Brexit in the US: Californian exit plan will use cryptocurrency to give everyone an income - Daily Express - September 6th, 2020
- YFI: Yearn Finance becomes the most expensive cryptocurrency, surges past $27000 - Nairametrics - September 6th, 2020
- Facebook and Twitter need to do more to prevent cryptocurrency scams, says CoinCorner CEO - ResponseSource - September 6th, 2020
- PM Modis Websites Twitter Account Briefly Hacked to Ask for Cryptocurrency - NDTV - September 6th, 2020
- The Cryptocurrency XRP Is Having A Good 6 Weeks - Forbes - August 24th, 2020
- IMF Publishes Cryptocurrency Explainer, Saying It 'Could Be the Next Step in the Evolution of Money' | News - Bitcoin News - August 24th, 2020
- Report finds $50 billion of cryptocurrency moved out of China hinting at capital flight against Beijing rules - CNBC - August 24th, 2020
- Leading Cryptocurrency Exchange PayBito to Add More Altcoins to the Platform - AiThority - August 24th, 2020
- Crypto: Why investors are rushing to DeFi assets - Nairametrics - August 24th, 2020
- Hackers Intercept Cryptocurrency Payments on the Tor Network Through SSL Stripping - CPO Magazine - August 24th, 2020
- Bitcoin price is surging as investors turn back to cryptocurrency - Metro.co.uk - August 20th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency from Coincheck cyberattack to be confiscated - The Japan Times - August 20th, 2020
- Tether retakes top 3 cryptocurrency spot over XRP - Decrypt - August 20th, 2020
- Bitcoin price hits 2020 record as investors turn to cryptocurrency during pandemic - The Independent - August 20th, 2020
- Buy Bitcoin or Gold? Novogratz and Portnoy Prefer the Cryptocurrency - Bloomberg - August 20th, 2020
- Boston Fed Bank explores cryptocurrency with MIT - Boston Herald - August 20th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency And Wills - Today's Wills & Probate - August 20th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency gaining traction in mainstream - Jim Duffy comment - The Scotsman - August 20th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency Mining Profitability in 2020: Is It Possible? - Cointelegraph - August 10th, 2020
- Flaws Could Have Exposed Cryptocurrency Exchanges to Hackers - WIRED - August 10th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency Cards: An Unnecessary Solution That Should Be Stopped - Cointelegraph - August 10th, 2020
- Wall Street Revealed To Be Edging Out Bitcoin Traders With $1 Million+ Transactions - Forbes - August 10th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency This Week: India Could Ban Virtual Currencies & More - Inc42 Media - August 10th, 2020
- US Congressmen Want IRS to Balance Taxation and Innovation in the Cryptocurrency Space | Taxes - Bitcoin News - August 10th, 2020
- Will This Quantum Computing Breakthrough Save Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency? - The Daily Hodl - August 10th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency Market Update: Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum begin consolidating - FXStreet - August 10th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency: The Currency of the Future - Techtree.com - August 10th, 2020
- Weiss Ratings Places Ethereum Ahead of Bitcoin As Top Cryptocurrency, Says Cardano Has the Best Technology - The Daily Hodl - August 10th, 2020
- Bitcoin surges past 8,400 as investors look for 'safe haven' - The Telegraph - July 29th, 2020
- Blockchain and how it can change construction - Geospatial World - July 29th, 2020
- CEO of Toronto-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinsquare resigns after regulatory probe - CBC.ca - July 29th, 2020
- 2020 will have publicly-traded cryptocurrency firms Barry Silbert - FXStreet - July 29th, 2020
- Chainalysis Introduces New Website, Market Intel, which gives Digital Asset Managers and Regulators Access to Meaningful Insight about Crypto Activity... - July 29th, 2020
- Why it is time to invest in Ethereum - Nairametrics - July 29th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency firm KuCoin 'shocked' by Twitter hacking - The National - July 19th, 2020
- Samsung Added Support for Stellar (XLM) Cryptocurrency to its Blockchain Keystore, Allows Millions of Users to Access the Digital Asset - Crowdfund... - July 19th, 2020
- $30 billion worth of BTCs disappears forever - Nairametrics - July 19th, 2020
- Popular singer, Akon and other leading experts speak on Africa's Crypto - Nairametrics - July 19th, 2020
- Revolut partners with Paxos to bring cryptocurrency trading to the US - TechCrunch - July 17th, 2020
- Paypal Developing Cryptocurrency Capabilities, Letter to European Commission Confirms | News - Bitcoin News - July 17th, 2020
- TCS is ready to mine the new crypto economy, snatches early-mover advantage with Quartz - Economic Times - July 17th, 2020
- These Two Cryptocurrency Marks For In Which Way The Bitcoin Is Headed - Inventiva - July 17th, 2020
- US Embassy in BD launches webinar series on dark web and cryptocurrency - The Financial Express - July 17th, 2020
- Impact of Covid-19 on Cryptocurrency 2020-2027 with Focusing Key players like Nvidia, Xilinx, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Bitfury Group, etc - Cole... - July 17th, 2020
- Revolut launches cryptocurrency trading in US - ThePaypers - The Paypers - July 17th, 2020
- Brave New Coin to Develop Cryptocurrency Indices that Toronto Futures Options Swaps Exchange will Use for Cash-Settled Options Trading - Crowdfund... - July 17th, 2020
- Binance Pool Partners with BitRiver - Finance Magnates - July 17th, 2020
- ESET Discovers Trojanized Mac Cryptocurrency App Collecting Wallets and Screenshots - IT News Online - July 17th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware Market (COVID 19 Updated) Climbs on Positive Outlook of Excellent Growth by 2027- Advanced Micro Devices, Baikal... - July 17th, 2020
- New York Appellate Court Confirms Attorney Generals Broad Investigative Powers into the Cryptocurrency Industry - JD Supra - July 17th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency Market with COVID 19 Impact-Global Industry Report, Size, Demand, Revenue, Top Manufacturers, and Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - July 17th, 2020
- Global Cryptocurrency Mining Software Market Projected to Reach USD XX.XX billion by 2024 : Genesis Mining, NiceHash, Awesome Miner, MinerGate,... - July 17th, 2020
- Chainlink (LINK) Becomes the Tesla of Cryptocurrency Whats Next? - Cointelegraph - July 14th, 2020
- As Bitcoin Struggles, This Minor Cryptocurrency Has Soared 1,000% In Just Over 12 Months - Forbes - July 14th, 2020
- Brave New Coin Signs Multi-Year Deal To Power Cryptocurrency Options Trading On Toronto Futures - Scoop.co.nz - July 14th, 2020
- Latest News On The Cryptocurrency Market | Intel, CoinBase, BitGo, and Binance - Jewish Life News - July 14th, 2020
- Akon sets out vision for his cryptocurrency and Akon City - Decrypt - July 14th, 2020
- Bank of England eyes groundbreaking new currency as key part of Britains future - Express - July 14th, 2020
- Bitcoin Exchanges And The Cryptocurrency World Was Just Rocked - JD Supra - July 11th, 2020
- New York Court Approves Investigation Into $10 Billion Cryptocurrency Created By A Presidential Candidate - Forbes - July 11th, 2020
- Huobi Global Provides Insight on What Is Driving the Institutional Interest in Cryptocurrency Investment - PRNewswire - July 11th, 2020
- What Challenges Affect the Cost of Running a Cryptocurrency Exchange - Cointelegraph - July 11th, 2020
- Cryptocurrency And Blockchain Technology Market size Reap Excessive Revenues size COVID-19 2022 - Kentucky Journal 24 - July 11th, 2020
- Fast Pace of Cryptocurrency Adoption in Latin America May be due to Dramatic Rise in Smartphone Users, Bitso Executive Reveals - Crowdfund Insider - July 11th, 2020
- NetCents teams up with crypto fintech company to utilize US$1.4 billion credit facility - Proactive Investors USA & Canada - July 11th, 2020