In an unprecedented attack on social networking site Twitter, the accounts of technology moguls, major companies, politicians and celebrities have been hacked.
The scam saw bogus tweets from former US President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, businessman and politician Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked.
The scam tweets were posting to verified accounts on a regular basis starting shortly after 4PM ET and lasting more than two hours. Twitter acknowledged the situation after more than an hour of silence, writing on its support account at 5:45PM ET.
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
The security breach was severe enough for Twitter to warn that many of its more than 166 million daily users might be unable to tweet or reset their passwords while the company tried to lock things down.
Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened.
We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.
💙 to our teammates working hard to make this right.
— jack (@jack) July 16, 2020
The fake tweets offered to send US$2,000 for every US$1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
The Bitcoin account mentioned in the fake tweets appeared to have been created on Wednesday. By the end of the day, it had received almost 12.9 bitcoins, an amount currently valued at slightly more than US$114,000. At some point during the day, roughly half that sum in bitcoin was withdrawn from the account.
Bezos, Gates and Musk are among the 10 richest people in the world, with tens of millions of followers on Twitter. The three men are worth a combined US$362 billion, according to the latest calculations by Forbes magazine.
The same bogus offer cropped up a second time on Musk’s account, which has a history of sometimes befuddling tweets from the entrepreneur.
Gates, who has become one of the world’s leading philanthropists since stepping down as Microsoft CEO, confirmed the tweet wasn’t from him. “This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing,” a spokesperson for the billionaire said in a statement, AP News reported.