Twitter accounts belonging to Joe Biden, bill gates, Elon Musk and Apple, among other well-known handles, were compromised on Wednesday in what Twitter considers an attack on some of its employees who have access to the company’s internal tools.
“We discovered what we believe was a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools,” the Twitter support team said late on Wednesday.
The attackers posted tweets that, apparently, contributed to the fraud with cryptocurrency.
These accounts, along with those of former President Barack Obama, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Mike Bloomberg, posted similar tweets on Wednesday asking them to donate bitcoin to their verified profiles.
“Everyone is asking me for a refund, and now is the time,” gates said in a tweet promising to double all payments to a bitcoin address within the next 30 minutes. All tweets were subsequently deleted.
“As soon as we became aware of the incident, we immediately blocked the affected accounts and deleted the tweets posted by the attackers,” Twitter said in a statement.
“We have blocked accounts that were compromised and will only restore access to the original account owner when we are confident that we can do so safely.”
Bill gates was one of many prominent Twitter users whose accounts were compromised on Wednesday.
“We all feel terrible when it happened,” Dorsey said.
“We will make a diagnosis and share everything we can when we have a better understanding of what exactly happened.”
Just over an hour after the attack began, Twitter apparently moved to ban the owners of verified accounts from tweeting. However, unverified accounts can still tweet.
Around 8: 30 PM, about three hours after Twitter first publicly stated that it was investigating an apparent hack, and just over two hours after it shut down Twitter for some accounts, Twitter reported that most accounts had been restored to full functionality.
“Most accounts should be able to tweet again. As we continue to work on the fix, this functionality may come and go, ” Twitter said.
“We are working to get things back to normal as soon as possible.”
The company said it was still investigating the breach and what other data might have been compromised.
“We are looking into what other malicious activity they may have carried out or information they may have accessed, and will share more here than we have.”
The sheer number of known accounts affected by this made it arguably the largest security incident in Twitter’s history.
A hack like this is particularly concerning, not only because of any financial Scam that can be run, but also because so many world leaders use Twitter-and some, like President Donald Trump, use it to announce major policy decisions.
A hack that hijacks an account belonging to one of these leaders can have devastating consequences.
Last year, Dorsey’s account was hacked, raising concerns about whether any account on the platform could actually avoid being compromised.
The mechanism by which this hack occurred was fixed by Twitter after the Dorsey hack, and there is no reason to believe that it is to blame here.
Assistant to Biden in the election campaign said that Twitter immediately” blocked ” their accounts. “We are still in touch with Twitter on this matter,” the aide added.
“We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by bill gates,” a gates representative told CNN Business.
“This appears to be part of a larger problem that Twitter is facing. Twitter is up to date and is working to restore the account.”
Asked if she was concerned that the President’s account might be affected, or if she had contacted Twitter about the issue, the White house declined to comment.
The first bitcoin wallet shown in some tweets only became active on Wednesday, Tim Cotten, a bitcoin researcher, told CNN Business. In the hours immediately after the wallet’s identification number was posted on Twitter, it received more than $ 100,000 in bitcoins through hundreds of transactions, Cotten said.
Some of this bitcoin was then transferred to other wallets, he added.
The apparent Scam also caught the attention of the FBI.
“We are aware of today’s security incident involving several Twitter accounts belonging to high-ranking individuals,” the FBI’s San Francisco field office said in a statement.
“The accounts appear to have been compromised to perpetuate cryptocurrency fraud.
We advise the public not to fall victim to this Scam by sending cryptocurrency or money in connection with this incident.”