The Twitter accounts of major companies and individuals have been compromised in one of the most widespread and confusing hacks the platform has ever seen, all in the service of promoting a bitcoin scam that seems to make its creator a little bit of money.
We don’t know how the hack happened, or even to what extent Twitter’s own systems might have been compromised. Account takeovers appear to have subsided, but new scam tweets were posted to audited accounts on a regular basis starting shortly after 4PM ET and lasting more than two hours. Twitter recognized the situation after more than an hour of silence, writing to its support account at 5:45 p.m. ET, “We are aware of a security incident involving Twitter accounts. We ‘re investigating and we’re taking action to repair it. We’ll update all of them soon.”
The company also took unprecedented steps to prevent verified accounts from tweeting at all beginning sometime around 6PM ET. This would appear to be the first time that Twitter has ever done this in the company’s history. Twitter updated its position on tweet limitation at 7:18 p.m. ET, writing, “We ‘re continuing to limit the ability to tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionality while looking at this. Thank you for your patience. “At 8:41 p.m. ET, Twitter said” most “of the audited accounts would be able to tweet, adding,” While we continue working on a patch, this feature can come and go.
Late in the evening, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote, “Tough day for us on Twitter. We all feel awful that this has happened. We ‘re diagnosing and we’re going to share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened. “Product Chief Kayvon Beykpour also released a public statement on his personal account, writing,” Our security incident investigation is still ongoing but we’re going to post updates from @TwitterSupport in more detail soon. In the meantime, I just wanted to reiterate that I’m very sorry for the inconvenience and frustration that this incident has caused to our customers.
Chaos began when Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter account was apparently compromised by a hacker’s attempt to use it to run a bitcoin scam. Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates’ account was also apparently accessed by the same scammer who posted a similar message with the same bitcoin wallet address. Both accounts continued to post new scam-promoting tweets just as soon as they were deleted, and Musk ‘s account in particular was still under hacker influence as late as 5:56PM ET.
The Gates spokesperson told Teddy Schleifer of Recode, “We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates. This seems to be part of the broader problem that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware of this and is working to restore the account.
Shortly after the initial wave of tweets from Gates and Musk ‘s accounts, the accounts of Apple, Uber, former President Barack Obama, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, hip-hop entrepreneur Kanye West, and former New York City Mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg, among others, were also hacked and started to scam.
The extent of the operation is unclear, but it appears to have affected a number of major companies and extremely high-profile individuals. This suggests that someone, or a group, has either found a serious security flaw in the Twitter login or account recovery process or the third-party app — or has somehow gained access to Twitter’s admin privileges.
According to Motherboard, numerous underground hacking circles shared screenshots of an internal Twitter administration tool allegedly used to take over the high-profile audited accounts. Twitter is removing images of the screenshot from its platform and, in some cases, suspending users who continue to share it. The company did not share any details on how the hacks were performed.