Late on Wednesday night, the Twitter accounts of Bill Gates and Elon Musk appeared to have been hacked, or fallen prey to a crypto-related scam.
However, it was soon noticed that it wasn't just these two accounts - The Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Kim Kardashian West, Warren Buffet, and more appear to have also been compromised.
The scam posted tweets on behalf of Gates and Musk stated a Bitcoin wallet address along with the promise of sending back double the amount of BTC if a user sends a certain amount to the designated wallet first. The scam appeared to happen in two rounds, wherein the scammers posted similar Bitcoin-scamming tweets for the second time from both Gates’ and Musk’s accounts, after their first tweets were deleted.
NEW: Hackers take over Twitter accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and many more. pic.twitter.com/UGXEkYunHb— Norbert Elekes (@NorbertElekes) July 15, 2020
The scam message posted from Musk’s profile was more obvious to being detected as fake. It said, “You know I living giving back to my community. I’m doubling all BTC payments sent to my address. You send $1,000 and I will send #$2,000 back! Tell your family & friends! Only going on for 30 minutes. (sic)” The first tweet posted from Musk’s account was equally out of shape, with the tweet claiming Musk to be feeling “greatful”.
While scams such as these are fairly common, what’s concerning is how the scammers gained access to high profile Twitter accounts such as Gates’ and Musk’s. Even though an official statement is awaited at the moment, the structuring of the tweets, coupled with the claims posted on the tweets, all point to the same perpetrator behind this crypto-jacking effort.
The Twitter hack appears to be far wider than two accounts, with Apple's and Jeff Bezos' accounts reportedly targeted as well. Alleged tweets on the matter cite publicly available data to claim that the scam has so far seen over 160 incoming transactions to the mentioned BTC wallet, amounting to collections of over $40,000 (~Rs 30 lac) in Bitcoin already.
Twitter has taken cognisance of the matter, and stated that it is investigating the incident.
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
As Netizens on Twitter noticed the worrying trend of hack, they couldn't help but link it to money heist, as well as turning into sleuths to find out the reason behind it.
This ain't an incident, this is a heist.— M3thods (@M2Madness) July 15, 2020
Twitter has temporarily paused posting from verified accounts, and has now resumed services, and in its last update mentioned that it is looking into the matter.
Most accounts should be able to Tweet again. As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020
What’s also worth noting is how the attackers appeared to have tuned their tweets to suit the personalities they targeted, adopting the general tone in which both Gates and Musk generally tweet. While Gates is generally reserved with his posts on Twitter, Musk’s unfiltered rants, tirades and musings have been viciously popular in the past. Read more here.