Twitter hack: What just happened?

Twitter hack

A wake up call for centralized platforms

Now the dust has settled on this high profile Twitter hack involving prolific world figures and Bitcoin. Its time to look at what actually happened, and importantly what the motivation behind the attack was.

The 15th of July will go down in history alongside notable days such as Black Thursday as the day centralized platforms got their biggest wake-up call. In a coordinated Twitter hack, some of the world’s most notable companies, politicians, and business leaders had their Twitter accounts hacked.

What followed was those Twitter accounts sharing messages offering a Bitcoin (BTC) giveaway that required users to send Bitcoins to an address before receiving double that amount back.

Tesla founder Elon Musk, former United States President Barack Obama, 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos as well as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates all had their accounts taken over.

The hacker used the accounts to ask people to send $1,000 to an address in order to receive $2,000 in BTC in return. A practice that isn’t that unfamiliar in the crypto space – this time though, the people requesting the funds was the irregularity.

Twitter hack

Crypto influencers targetted

Cryptocurrency figureheads Justin Sun, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, Charlie Lee, and AngeloBTC amongst others had their accounts hacked. On top of that major cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance, Coinbase, Bitfinex, and Gemini as well as the Twitter accounts of Bitcoin and Ripple were targetted.

The attack promoted people to either send BTC directly to the given wallet address or to visit a website to sign up for a supposed 5,000 BTC giveaway. The killer blow came as people were promised double the amount of BTC that they sent.

The latest analysis of the BTC address shared throughout the Twitter hack shows that it has received 12.86584703 BTC or $118,000 (at the time of writing).

High profile accounts were targetted

Wake and shake

Aside from the obvious issues around security and fraudulent activity, there was a simple yet powerful message delivered to the world. Centralized systems are open to attack and social media platforms need to act now in order to secure the future of their services. A message that has been echoed throughout the crypto space for well over a decade.

In an interview with CoinTelegraph Binance’s CZ stated: “We believe this is a good wake up call for all social media platforms to revamp their security practices given the increased adoption of cryptocurrencies. Social media platforms are no longer just a place to share a selfie, it can and will be used for financial transactions and even crime. Stronger security needs to be built into these platforms.”

Binance’s CZ believes that the Twitter hack hasn’t actually reflected too badly on Bitcoin and proves that the cryptocurrency has true value. But contrary to that, CZ also believes it’s hard to argue against the idea that the hack has reflected badly on Twitter and its security systems.

Inside job?

Evidence has begun to emerge that suggests the attacker may have been assisted by a Twitter employee or developer. This theory first arose as it became clear that hackers had accessed the administrative panels of the various accounts that were compromised. This was later confirmed by Twitter.

Vice reported that screenshots of a hacker using an internal Twitter user administration tool on a number of the accounts in question were being circulated amongst online hacking groups. Vice also claimed that hackers confirmed they paid a Twitter employee in order to gain access to the tools needed.

This was further confirmed as a screenshot of the admin panel of Binance’s Twitter account was shared and widely published. Twitter then took measures to stem any further damage by locking the affected accounts and removing the tweets requesting BTC.

Following that, the social media platform then limited the functionality of a wider group of verified accounts. The feeling was that they may come under attack.

Same old Bitcoin

Since its inception, Bitcoin has been shrouded in controversy and negative news as the cryptocurrency and blockchain space fell victim to waves of opportunist scams. Tales of scams and hacks were rife in the community. Something that those inside the industry believed was slowing down adoption and usage.

But, recently it felt as if the industry had been focussed on a mass clean-up operation. Aided in part by the adoption of DeFi and games products.

As stated earlier by Binance’s CZ the hack does more to show the frailty of centralized social media platforms. The fact Bitcoin was chosen as the commodity of choice is actually quite a positive thing. It shows that digital currency now holds real-world value.

In an attempt to grab headlines the mainstream media has painted the same old picture. Using Bitcoin as clickbait to attract regular readers to ‘yet another scam’, unfairly in our opinion.

It has been a truly fascinating week and incident details are still trickling through from various sources. Was this an attack purely to gain funds? Or was it a way for hackers to once again expose the frailty of the centralized systems? Updates will follow as Twitter learns more and shares this information with the public.

As always we will continue to monitor developments as they unfold. For now, make sure to bookmark DappRadar. Sign up to our newsletter to receive regular updates directly to your inbox.

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