KEY POINTS

  • Hack targeted crypto companies and personalities before tech figures and politicians
  • Coinbase, Gemini immediately blocked users from sending funds to hackers
  • Some analysts suspected API-level vulnerability 

Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and many other prominent persons were caught in the latest coordinated hacking on Twitter on Wednesday, July 15. All of them appeared to send out links to a Bitcoin scam site after their Twitter accounts were compromised.

The message posted on the hacked Twitter accounts enticed users to send BTC to receive double the amount sent. So far, the scam has raked in 12.85 BTC, worth $118,496 in Wednesday's BTC prices. The Bitcoin wallet where the scammed funds were deposited appeared to be quickly transferring the coins to other addresses.

The first accounts that were compromised were of crypto exchanges like Binance, Gemini, Coinbase, and Kucoin. The next wave hit crypto companies like Ripple, news site Coindesk and crypto personalities like Tron Foundation’s Justin Sun and Litecoin’s Charlie Lee. Binance’s Changpeng "CZ" Zhao warned his followers of the ongoing scam but minutes later, his account was hacked too.

About an hour later, the Twitter accounts of some prominent figures in tech, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, began tweeting similar scam messages without the earlier "Crypto for Health" association. Musk's Twitter account posted more of the hacked tweets. Around the same time, accounts of politicians like former President Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Biden were tweeting the scam.

Later, the accounts of tech companies like Apple and Uber were also compromised.

Coinbase immediately blocked any user wallet from sending Bitcoins to the address associated with the hack. Gemini Exchange, owned by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, also blocked the Bitcoin address.

In response, Twitter first blocked verified accounts - those with blue checkmarks next to their names - from posting since they were the ones being targeted mostly. This appeared to put the situation under control. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said his team is diagnosing the situation and will share more details once they have a clear understanding of what happened.

The scale of the attack raised questions about Twitter’s security. Analyst and cryptographer Jameson Lopp suggested that someone appeared to have root-level access to Twitter. Bitcoin advocate and author of "Mastering Bitcoin", Andreas Antonopoulos, suspected API-level vulnerability.

The social networking platform’s stock price was down 3.25% in after-hours trading Wednesday.

Bitcoin’s price remained virtually unchanged around $9,200.

This is a developing story.

Twitter's Jack Dorsey, pictured in November 2018, has pledged $3 million for the group Mayors for a Guaranteed Income
Twitter's Jack Dorsey, pictured in November 2018, has pledged $3 million for the group Mayors for a Guaranteed Income AFP / Prakash SINGH
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