Obama, Musk, Gates and other high-profile Twitter accounts hacked in Bitcoin scam

By Harriet Piercy

Published Jul 16, 2020 at 12:19 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

If last night, like many, you saw a tweet offering a generous proposal such as Barack Obama’s “I am giving back to my community. All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled,” and wondered what Obama was going on about, let’s be clear, it was a hack.

Obama, Musk, Gates and other high-profile Twitter accounts hacked in Bitcoin scam

Who got hacked on Twitter, and how?

Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West, Apple, Uber—the list of high-profile people and companies that got their Twitter accounts hacked goes on, including leading cryptocurrency sites. The profiles were obviously targeted for their high following count in order to spread the scam as widely as possible.

Twitter announced that it had detected what it believed to be a “coordinated engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.” TechCrunch was told by a source involved in the underground hacking scene that the hacker who goes by the handle ‘Kirk’ generated over $100,000 in a matter of hours. By gaining access to Twitter’s admin tool, Kirk used it to reset email addresses of the accounts affected which made it more difficult for the rightful owners to regain control.

The source, who remains anonymous, also told TechCrunch that Kirk started out by selling stolen usernames on social media, a somewhat popular, yet very illegal business. These usernames sell from anywhere between a few hundred dollars to thousands. There is a popular forum among traders of hacked social media handles, called OGUsers, which Kirk is shown to have contacted. Screenshots of a chat between a ‘trusted member’ and the hacker were shared with TechCrunch, where he said “Send me @’s and BTC,” which refers to Twitter usernames and cryptocurrency.

The screenshots show that Kirk also had access to the internal administrative tool on Twitter’s network. It is currently unknown how exactly Kirk managed to gain access to Twitter’s internal tool, but it has been hypothesised that an employee’s account was hijacked, which then allowed Kirk into the company’s internal network.

What is being done by Twitter to put an end to the hacks?

Twitter has declared that once the company became aware of the attack, it “locked down the affected accounts and removed tweets posted by the attackers.” As a precaution, it also limited access for accounts that had been verified with a blue check.

CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that it had been a “tough day for us at Twitter.” He added, “We all feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”

The popular Bitcoin exchange Coinbase has blocked its users from sending money to the address advertised via the affected accounts. While Twitter continues to investigate, cybersecurity experts have begun speculating on other potential sources of the breach. Twitter has stated that it is “working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

The company has said that “Internally, we’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing.” It remains unknown who is behind the attack.

Keep On Reading

By Charlie Sawyer

Kim Kardashian faces backlash for shocking two word response to Palestine protester

By Charlie Sawyer

Home Office to pay TikTok influencers up to £5K to warn migrants not to cross the Channel

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Tripping through J.Lo-land: Unpacking the singer’s most insane project yet

By Abby Amoakuh

Underage deepfake porn of Jenna Ortega and Sabrina Carpenter used in Instagram and Facebook ads

By Charlie Sawyer

How much does it cost to attend the 2024 Met Gala? Why this year’s event is set to be the messiest one yet

By Charlie Sawyer

From being besties with Eminem to birthing the royal baby, here’s things you didn’t know about Trisha Paytas

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Oat milk vs almond milk: the ultimate showdown

By Abby Amoakuh

Video of Donald Trump accusing Barack Obama of founding ISIS goes viral days after Moscow attack

By Abby Amoakuh

Trump kept a book of Adolf Hitler’s speeches, Ivana Trump reveals

By Charlie Sawyer

Side hustles are going to be taxed in the UK in January 2024. Here’s everything you need to know

By Abby Amoakuh

Why gen Zers don’t want to climb the corporate ladder: A deep dive into the middle management problem

By Abby Amoakuh

VICE obituary: How Gen Z will remember the millennial digital media titan

By Louis Shankar

Nex Benedict’s tragic death proves the US and UK have learnt nothing about inclusivity in schools

By Louis Shankar

60th Venice Biennale proves that art is rarely, if ever, apolitical

By Charlie Sawyer

Taylor Swift fans call Travis Kelce walking red flag after Super Bowl LVIII moment

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Amanda Bynes reveals recent cosmetic surgery on her eyelids in viral TikTok

By Alma Fabiani

John Cena reacts to Drake’s nudes on Instagram

By Abby Amoakuh

Newly leaked documents suggest Putin is ready to start World War 3

By Fleurine Tideman

Travis Kelce gave both Taylor Swift and the whole world the ick

By Charlie Sawyer

Justice for Billie Piper: Why she’s worth so much more than her ex-husband Laurence Fox