Twitter accounts of leading world figures hacked in Bitcoin scam

16 July 2020, 00:06 | Updated: 16 July 2020, 02:22

Twitter confirmed it is aware of the security incident
Twitter confirmed it is aware of the security incident. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Twitter accounts of leading world figures and companies - including Kanye West, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Apple - have been hacked by Bitcoin scammers.

Other names that were targeted in the cryptocurrency scam include Elon Musk, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Uber, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The accounts, all of which have large Twitter followings, were simultaneously hacked on Wednesday evening with a message posted on each, encouraging users to send $1,000 (£794) to a Bitcoin address.

In return, users were promised that their money will be doubled and returned to them.

The fraudulent message read: "I am giving back to my community due to Covid-19! All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled.

"If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000!

"Only doing this for the next 30 minutes! Enjoy."

In response to the hack, Twitter temporarily prevented all verified accounts with blue ticks from uploading tweets as it carried out an investigation.

Barack Obama's Twitter account was among those impacted by the scam
Barack Obama's Twitter account was among those impacted by the scam. Picture: PA

As the incident unfolded, Twitter said it was aware of a "security incident" impacting accounts and was "taking steps to fix it."

The social media giant wrote in a series of tweets: "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.

"You may be unable to Tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident."

US Senator Josh Hawley has reportedly written to Twitter's Jack Dorsey about the Twitter hack, saying: "I am concerned that this event may represent not merely a coordinated set of separate hacking incidents but rather a successful attack on the security of Twitter itself."

A later tweet by the Twitter's Support account read: "We’re continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this.

"Thanks for your patience."

By 1:41am, the social media giant appeared to have resolved the issue as tweets from verified accounts flooded on to people's home pages.

Over $110,000 was reportedly sent to Bitcoin scammers as part of the hack.

Targeted accounts included Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Kanye West's account was hacked twice in the space of an hour with the same message posted.

A number of company accounts, including that of Apple and Uber, were also hacked with the message posted.

Most of the tweets were deleted within a number of minutes, but many had been retweeted thousands of times.

The hackers seemed to have been able to side-step Twitter's two-factor authentication process for verified accounts.

Kanye West's Twitter account was one of those targeted on Wednesday
Kanye West's Twitter account was one of those targeted on Wednesday. Picture: PA

The hacked messages were posted after several high-profile cryptocurrency companies' Twitter accounts shared malicious links earlier on Wednesday.

Tyler Winklevoss, who founded cryptocurrency company Gemini alongside brother Cameron, tweeted earlier today: "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."

His brother Cameron added: "ALL MAJOR CRYPTO TWITTER ACCOUNTS HAVE BEEN COMPROMISED.

"2FA / strong password was used for @Gemini account. We are investigating and hope to have more information shortly."

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