Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Jeff Bezoz, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, other major companies and celebrities were hacked by unidentified persons in a massive security breach on Wednesday (July 15).
The ruse included bogus tweets from former President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked.
In an apparent Bitcoin scam, the fake tweets offered to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address. There is no evidence that the owners of these accounts were targeted themselves. Instead, the hacks appeared designed to lure their Twitter followers into sending money to an anonymous Bitcoin account.
The Biden campaign, for instance, said that Twitter’s integrity team locked down the account within a few minutes of the breach and removed the related tweet. Obama’s office had no immediate comment. The FBI said it was aware of Twitter’s security breach, but declined further comment.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Thursday took note of the hacking and said that it was a “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened.” Twitter said it is investigating and promised an update shortly. Just last year, the account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was broken into a and used to tweet racist and vulgar comments.
The apparently fake tweets were all quickly deleted. The security problem was severe enough for Twitter to warn that many of its more than 166 million daily users might be unable to tweet or reset their passwords while the company tried to lock things down.
Among the political figures targeted, the hack mostly appeared to target Democrats or other figures on the left, drawing comparisons to the 2016 campaign.
US intelligence agencies established that Russia engaged in coordinated attempts to interfere in those U.S. elections through social media tampering and various hacks, including targeting the various campaigns and major party organisations.
The hack might also be a simple demonstration of Twitter’s weak security controls as the US heads into the 2020 presidential election, a contest in which the service is likely to play an influential role.
The Bitcoin account mentioned in the fake tweets appears to have been created on Wednesday. By the end of the day, it had received almost 12.9 bitcoins, an amount currently valued at slightly more than $114,000.
Bezos, Gates and Musk are among the 10 richest people in the world, with tens of millions of followers on Twitter.
Gates, who has become one of the worlds leading philanthropists since stepping down as Microsoft CEO, confirmed the tweet wasnt from him. This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing,” a spokesperson for the billionaire said in a statement.
Investors also appeared to be concerned about potential fallout from the hack affecting Twitters usage. Twitters shares fell 3% in extended trading after news of the hack broke.