The online twitter chaos struck on Wednesday around 4 in the afternoon when a number of high- profile accounts of billionaires and companies across the US were hacked. The targeted account holders were Joe Biden (the democratic candidate for US President), Elon Musk (CEO Tesla), Barak Obama (Former US President), Jeffery Bezos ( Amazon CEO), Bill Gates, Uber, Apple and others in one of the most pronounced security breaches on any social media site.
What were the tweets about?
The tweets came from the accounts having millions of followers on twitter alone. Both companies of Uber and Apple, Joe Biden and Former President of the United States Barak Obama, the musician Kanye West hacked accounts posted a similar tweet, directing the people to send cryptocurrency to a Bitcoin Address while also requesting donations from the users. It is all a scam of course.
The purpose of the tweets was to lure millions of users into sending their money to the given link address, apparently compromised to promote a Bitcoin scam, promising that the money would be doubled and returned.
The first tweet came from the account of Tesla CEO Elon Musk on July 15, 2020. After this tweet, similar tweets were posted claiming that the sender, in charity, would repay every user doubling the value of any Bitcoin, as a part of the Covid-19 Fund. However, the tweets were quickly taken down but twitter seemed powerless to regain control. The attack also resulted in the site to partially shut down.
To prevent the scam from spreading further, the Twitter company disabled the service including the ability of verified users, the ones with the blue ticks on their accounts to tweet for a couple of hours whilst also denying the service of changing their passwords.
The company tweeted, “You may be unable to tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident.”
Twitter’s spokesman also added that “We’re looking into what other malicious activities they may have conducted or information they may have accessed. We’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing”
The hack took place even though these “Elite” accounts are one of the most protected accounts on the twitter site.
Cybersecurity Response to the Hack:
Even though the hackers did not use their access to aim any important infrastructure, the online attack was still a massive concern to security experts because they were bothered that they could’ve easily caused much more frenzy.
The cybersecurity expert Rachel Tobac said, “This is massive, most likely the largest attack I’ve ever seen. We are extremely lucky that these attackers are momentarily motivated and not sowing mass chaos all over the world.”
“These double your Bitcoin scams have been a persistent pest for years” stated Joe Tidy, a cyber-security reporter as he further added that, “ it’s going to be very hard to catch the criminals by following the Money Law enforcement, as well as many angry users, will have some strong questions for Twitter about how this could have happened.”
It is evident that the attackers did not steal the passwords of individual users rather they gained access to the internal system of the twitter company. Social Engineering is psychological manipulation as the Twitter employees were tricked in some way by the hackers. Ina short time, the targeted accounts received more than $100,000.
The chief technology officer, Harper Reed stated his disappointment saying, “The problem is that we all rely on Twitter as this public space that is safe and secure, and we know that the tweets that someone like Joe Biden is sending out are authentic.”
Why was Donald Trump’s account not targeted?
One thing that is not talked about is how Donald trump’s account was not targeted among these Elite high profile accounts. If you remember a couple of years ago, Trumps’ account was hacked by a rogue worker as he gained access and briefly deleted Donald Trump’s twitter account in 2017. The incident raised many questions about Twitter security even though his account was restored later.
The President of the United States frequently posts tweets about his personal and political views and has a high following of 83.5 million. As his account wasn’t hacked, the New York Times reported that his account is under a “special kind of lock and key” after the past incidents as the security breach had no effect on his account apparently.
Brett Callow, a threat analyst at Cybersecurity firm Emisoft said that “While account take-overs are commonplace, this would appear to be a compromise on an unprecedented scale.”
A tough day for the Twitter Company:
This hack has caused some major turmoil in the social media world, proving to be a lesson for other online sites to improve their internal security systems. Later the same night, The CEO and co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey tweeted that,
“Tough day for us at Twitter. We feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”