The Greatest Twitter Hack of Our Time

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  • July 16, 2020
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16 July 2020.

On the Wednesday the 15th of July at 14:26 ET, Twitter, a social media giant suffered a terrible hack. A malicious actor or actors managed to get access to a wide range of Twitter profiles. The perpetrators posed as celebrities and even companies like Apple and Binance, before asking for users to transfer Bitcoin to certain addresses under the guise that the Bitcoin sent would be doubled and sent back. In some instances the perpetrators used prolific crypto trader accounts to offer access to trading signal groups for a fee.

It took Twitter quite some time to acknowledge that their platform had been breached and by the time they did the hackers had already successfully received a few Bitcoin for their efforts. One of the wallets used by the hackers can be seen here. This wallet has since been drained but not before collecting 12.86645344 BTC / 118,974.42 USD.

Twitters CEO Jack Dorsey, an open Bitcoin supporter or evangelist if you will, tweeted a brief statement earlier today.

Twitter has since attempted to curtail the efforts of the hackers by restricting certain groups of accounts from tweeting, this included verified accounts too. Twitter later stated they believe the hack is the result of a very well coordinated social engineering attack. From an information security perspective a social engineering attack is the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information like passwords or bank information.

You can read more on Twitter’s responses here

So how did the Twitter Hack played out?

The hacker began with a tweet published from a well known crypto trader @AngeloBTC

The hackers tweeted about opening a telegram group where members could pay 0.01 BTC / 90 USD to receive weekly trading signals from whales. The term “Whale” is used to describe individuals/accounts with large holdings of a particular cryptocurrency.

After this first tweet, the hackers moved on to more prestigious accounts with even greater influence and reach, and at 15:13 ET they tweeted from one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, Binance.

The hackers then brazenly reinforced their message by tweeting the same thing from Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao‘s account. After that the hackers swiftly made their way through a list of popular cryptocurrency exchanges like Bitfinex and Coinbase, Crypto and blockchain news publishers like Coindesk, and high profiled celebrities personalities like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Mike Bloomberg and even Barack Obama.

See list of the accounts used below:

This hack churned out approximately 31 tweets and based on the follower counts of the individual accounts the hackers tweeted from, they were able to reach around 300 million profiles. It’s worth noting that in Q1 of 2019 Twitter averaged 330 million monthly active users. The hackers have been able to nearly reach that many profiles in a few hours. Not to forget that these tweets would have been amplified through CryptoTwitter’s meme antics and others who were unable to deduce that these accounts had been hacked.

Why is this hack so dangerous? 

Twitter is one of the most widely Social Media platforms in world, with a user base of it 330 Million monthly active users the platform is becoming increasingly relevant in international politics.

It is well known that Heads of State have official Twitter profiles. They use the platform to engage with their audiences, make important announcements and amplify their messages.

Being able to pose as the Prime Minister or President of an international super power is not something to be take lightly. The hackers were wielding a serious amount of power and thankfully they only cared for a few Bitcoin at the time, rather than meddling in Political affairs in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and other sources of international tension.

71% of Twitters users say they use Twitter as a source of news. By hacking Twitter the perpetrators managed to gain control over every account on the platform and could have used these profiles to spread all sorts of terrible news and entice negative and destructive behaviour.

What does this mean for Bitcoin?

While the level of Bitcoin’s publicity is probably at its highest in recent months, the act that has led to this publicity was a nefarious one.

Bitcoin has been slandered as a tool for criminals for a long time so this won’t do the Bitcoin brand any favours when it comes to reducing the cryptocurrency’s association with crime.

On the other hand, this hack may invite more and more people to learn about Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and other applications of the Blockchain.

Where is Bitcoin trending?

Who are the winners? 

Decentralized social networks like, Twetch, Voice or Steem.

Centralized networks use servers that act as custodians of the data that passes through it, as such there is one point of control or one authority in the network.

Decentralized networks rely on a peer-to-peer network built on top of a community of independent users who provide a pool of resources to support the network, as such there is no authority, each member is completely independent.

Having a single authority presents a vulnerability for centralized networks, as we’ve just seen with Twitter. Hackers only need access to one server in order to take control of a network, whereas with a decentralized network, if a hacker managed to infiltrate one of the nodes, the network would be able to function without the exploited node.

 

Who are the losers?

Twitter, the hack presents a chink in Twitter’s armor. It’s quite likely that Twitter users will have this security exploit at the top of their mind for a while. Security hacks can cause serious harm to a Brands credibility.

The Cryptocurrency exchanges, celebrities and other companies targeted in the hack. Even though the hack has nothing to do with their security practices, their customers and associates may feel that this hack reflects poorly on their security. Many people have assumed that the social media mangers were to blame, or that the profiles had weak passwords and did not have 2FA enabled.

Going forward

Could this be the catalyst for the increased adoption of decentralized technologies and the development of newer ones? The hack has highlighted the vulnerabilities of centralized platforms. It’s safe to say that this hack had the potential to do a lot of damage and strongly impact so many more people. Will this hack be the event to present decentralised solutions as a viable and attractive option to the masses?

For more on the Twitter hack and to see the full list of accounts used and the tweets visit @lawmaster’s account on twitter 😉


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