High-Profile Twitter Accounts Hacked with Apparent Bitcoin Scam Messages

Bitcoin scam Twitter hack Barack Obama


High-Profile Twitter Accounts Hacked with Apparent Bitcoin Scam Messages

PUBLISHED 6:25 PM ET JUL. 15, 2020 UPDATED 11:29 PM ET JUL. 15, 2020

NEW YORK — An high-scale security breach occurred at the social media giant Twitter on Wednesday.

Several high-profile Twitter accounts belonging to corporations, celebrities, billionaires, and even politicians fell victim to what appeared to be a cyberattack designed to tweet out a scam message.

In a thread of tweets late Wednesday evening, Twitter support provided an update and called the incident a "coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools."

Twitter said the people who targeted those employees used the access to control the high-profile accounts.

Uncharacteristic messages appeared on the compromised accounts starting Wednesday afternoon. The scam tweets implied that the account holder was donating money and asked its victims to donate Bitcoins, a cryptocurrency, to a specific address. The message promised the account holder would match the donation with double the amount.

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg were among the politicians displaying the messages on their Twitter accounts.

Tech companies such as Uber and Apple displayed the messages for a short time.

Businessmen, including Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, and celebrities, including artist Kanye West and actor Sterling K. Brown, also had the messages displayed on their accounts.

In the aftermath of the hacked tweets, all verified Twitter accounts - including Spectrum News accounts - were prevented from tweeting directly to their accounts for a couple of hours. They were still able to re-tweet. Twitter's support team called this "an important step to reduce risk."

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey weighed in after verified users were allowed to tweet again, calling it a "tough day' and saying the company is assessing what happened.

Users are advised to enable two-factor authentication on their accounts, be on the lookout for suspicious content, and change their passwords frequently.