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Twitter hack: What happened and how Twitter tackled the Bitcoin scam

Twitter hack: "Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said after official accounts of profound personalities like Barak Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and companies such as Apple and Uber were hacked for promoting a bitcoin scam. Here's what happened.

Written by Sneha Saha | Kolkata |
Updated: July 18, 2020 1:24:51 pm
twitter hack, twitter accounts hacked, top twitter accounts hacked, twitter hack bitcoin scam, twitter hack dorsey, twitter accounts suspended Twitter hacked: What happened, how account of prominent personalities were used in the Bitcoin scam

“Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said after official accounts of prominent personalities from political, tech, entertainment, and other spheres like Barak Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian and tech companies such as Apple and Uber were hacked for promoting a bitcoin scam. In the event, some of the leading cryptocurrency sites were also affected. There is still no clear information on who was responsible for cryptocurrency scam but Twitter said it is investigating the matter and will get back with details soon.

Twitter acknowledged the hacking incident almost after an hour of silence and said, “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.” Here’s a timeline of incidents that occurred and how the social media platform tackled it.

* It all started after a tweet requesting donations in the cryptocurrency was posted from official accounts of Barak Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, Uber, Apple and more. The tweet from Musk’s account noted, “All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1000, I will send back $2000. Only doing this for 30 minutes. [the link]. Enjoy!” A similar tweet was posted from other accounts asking users to donate Bitcoin and get double in return. For now, there are no details on how many fell prey to the scam. Twitter is investigating the matter.

READ | What is Bitcoin?

* Official account of tech companies Apple and Uber were among the first to be impacted, followed by those of Elon Musk and Bill Gates. In the next couple of hours the hackers took over handles of Barack Obama, Biden, Mike Bloomberg and also Jeff Bezos. Twitter handles of boxer Floyd Mayweather and celebrity Kim Kardashian was also affected later.

* Slightly over an hour after this tweet was sent out from accounts, Twitter acknowledged the issue and said it is taking necessary steps to fix the issue.

* Twitter in a matter of few minutes locked the affected accounts and removed Tweets posted by the attackers. “We have locked accounts that were compromised and will restore access to the original account owner only when we are certain we can do so securely,” it noted in a series of tweets.

* The social media giant restricted the ability to tweet or reset the account password so the hacker responsible for the scam isn’t able to post further and trick users on the platform. The restrictions were removed later but Twitter noted, “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 then said it detected “a coordinated social engineering attack” by hackers who initially targeted some of the employees with access to internal systems and tools.

* According to a report coming from Vice a hacker gained access to Twitter admin took on the company’s network that led to the hijack of accounts of famous personalities. The report states that the information related to the Twitter admin tool comes from a person with direct knowledge of the incident. The company is yet to throw light on the claim.

Explained: How Twitter was hacked and what questions it raises about security of the platform in election year

* It is reported that in just four hours time the Bitcoin wallet promoted in the tweets received over $100,000 through at least 300 transactions.

Twitter is currently looking into what other malicious activity the hacker may have conducted or information they may have access. The social media platform has promised to share details on the same as they find out. 

For the time being, Twitter has “limited functionality for a much larger group of accounts, like all verified accounts (even those with no evidence of being compromised)” while they continue to fully investigate the hacking incident. This was disruptive, but it was an important step to reduce risk. Most functionality has been restored but we may take further actions and will update you if we do,” the company noted.

READ | How to keep your Twitter account safe 

Commenting on the Bitcoin scam Twitter CEO said, “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 ensure you don’t fall prey to such scam never click on unverified links especially if it includes information related to quick money earning, and so on.

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