Late on Wednesday night, several high-profile Twitter accounts, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Kim Kardashian West, Warren Buffet, and more appeared to have been hacked, or fallen prey to a crypto-related scam.
The scam posted tweets on behalf of Gates and Musk stated a Bitcoin wallet address along with the promise of sending back double the amount of BTC if a user sends a certain amount to the designated wallet first. The scam appeared to happen in two rounds, wherein the scammers posted similar Bitcoin-scamming tweets for the second time from both Gates’ and Musk’s accounts, after their first tweets were deleted.
The hack has raised serious questions about the social media platform's security, with conspiracy theories suggesting that Twitter's own employees or tools may have had something to do with it. Twitter, has clarified a bit of this. It explained how the hack was targeted not at the individuals whose accounts had been hacked, but at employees of Twitter who were in positions to control the accounts.
But this is not the first time Twitter has encountered significant security breaches. Remember when CEO Jack Dorsey's own account was hacked? You'd expect that the social media platform's founder would make his account unhackable. Well, no.
In August 2019, millions of Dorsey's followers were in for a shock when a number of racist and vulgar tweets were posted from the CEO's account. A group of hackers called 'Chuckling Squad' later took responsibility for the breach.
"The phone number associated with the account was compromised due to a security oversight by the mobile provider. This allowed an unauthorized person to compose and send tweets via text message from the phone number. That issue is now resolved," explained Twitter.
The tweets, of course, were taken down in a manner of minutes and the official Twitter Communications team tweeted:
We're aware that @jack was compromised and investigating what happened.
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) August 30, 2019
Earlier this year, a dozen accounts belonging to teams in the National Football League were hacked by a group named OurMine. The idea was to establish that nothing was safe and that all accounts were hackable. Some of the accounts had the Twitter profile pictures, bio or headers removed.
In 2016, according to a tech website named TechCrunch, 32 million Twitter passwords and login credentials were hacked and leaked and were being sold on the dark web. However, Twitter asserted that there had been no breach.
“We are confident that these usernames and credentials were not obtained by a Twitter data breach – our systems have not been breached,” a Twitter spokesperson had then said.
In 2015, the official Twitter account of the U.S. Central Command was hacked with hackers posting messages promoting ISIS. One of the messages read,"American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back. ISIS."
According to a CNBC report, the Twitter handle's profile picture was also replaced with a photo that said "I love you ISIS".
We get it. Every time you're on social media, there is no 100% guarantee that your accounts and your data are safe. But Twitter has been facing high-profile breaches for a while now. And although the one on Wednesday was by far one of the most significant breaches in the recent past, it does raise a very serious, a very scary question - if tech giants like Elon Musk or Apple aren't safe online, where does that leave us?