From Democratic big guns Joe Biden and former US President Barack Obama to tech executives Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, a number of United States twitter accounts have been hacked by a group of hackers in what was an apparent Bitcoin scam.
The official accounts of Barack Obama, Kayne West and Joe Biden were seen endorsing donations in the cryptocurrency.
“Everyone is asking me to give back,” a tweet from Microsoft co-founder surfaced. “You send $1000, I send you back $2,000.”
Twitter confirmed it was a coordinated attack that targeted its employees ‘with access to internal systems and tools”.
“We know they (the hackers) used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and tweet on their behalf,” the company said in a series of tweets.
It further said that significant steps were taken to limit the access to its internal systems and tools as an investigation proceeds.
A hacked tweet from Apple’s account, read: “We are giving back to our community. We support Bitcoin and we believe you should too. All Bitcoin sent to our address below will be sent back to you doubled!”
Meanwhile, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted: “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened. We are diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”
A cyber-security professional familiar with the matter said that the attack could have been more damaging in other circumstances.
“If you were to have this kind of incident take place in the middle of a crisis, where Twitter was being used to either communicate de-escalatory language or critical information to the public and suddenly it is putting out the wrong messages from several verified accounts – that could be seriously destabilizing,” Dr. Alexi Drew from King’s College London said while talking to BBC.
Twitter in its emergency response was prompted to stop many of its users with verified accounts from tweeting to control the damage. Password reset requests were also denied and some other account functions were locked. By 20:30 EDT blued-ticked-user-accounts became functional again, but Twitter still maintained its was working on a fix.
CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch talking to Reuters news agency said: “This appears to be the worst hack of a major social media platform yet.”
The official twitter handle of SpaceX and Tesla founder, Elon Musk – having huge following in West – also appeared to request for the donations and doubling them, if the amount was sent to the address of his digital wallet “for the next 30 minutes.”
“I’m feeling generous because of COVID-19,” the tweet said, along with a Bitcoin wallet address. The tweets from Mr. Musk’s compromised accounts were removed just minutes after they were first posted. Two more tweets were posted after the deletion of first tweet.
The widespread coordinated attack also reached the rapper Kayne West and his wife and reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, former US President Barack Obama and his deputy VP Joe Biden, media magnate Mike Bloomberg, Apple and Uber.
The campaign of the Trump’s Democratic challenger said twitter had “locked the account with in a few minutes of the breach and removed the related tweet”.
While a spokesman for Bill Gates told AP news agency: “Tis appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing.”
According to a security source a cyber-attacker using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org having a username: Anthony Elias appeared to post on Instagram: “It was a charity attack. Your money will find its way to the right place.”
The email reportedly belongs to an account linked with cryptoforhealth.com account and real whereabouts of the perpetrators behind the attack are unknown as of yet.