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Twitter hack: What we know about what’s going on

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Elon Musk wants to give you free bitcoin — at least, that’s what his Twitter account says.

Don’t trust him.

The Tesla account is one of numerous high-profile accounts on the social network that have been compromised as part of a remarkable, far-reaching hack, in an attempt to scam people using digital currency bitcoin.

As of writing on Wednesday, there’s still a whole lot of unknowns. But here’s what we do and don’t know so far.

Who’s been hacked?

Tons of people. Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Apple’s official account, Warren Buffett, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian… the list goes on and on.

The only common thread between the accounts appears to be that they’re all, well, very famous. The hacker(s) appears to be targeting high-profile accounts that will spread the scam as far as possible.

How did they get hacked?

That’s not clear yet. 

There have been incidents in the past in which a third-party social media management app got hacked, and then users of that app were compromised. It meant hackers could get access to their accounts, even though Twitter itself wasn’t breached.

It’s not clear what’s going on in this case, but the unprecedented scale of the hack does raise the possibility that Twitter’s systems may have been breached in some way.

Another way this hack is unusual is the duration of it. Some of the accounts have been compromised for well over an hour, with repeatedly reposting the scam messages after they get deleted (presumably, by Twitter). In previous hacks, Twitter has been able to lock down high-profile accounts rapidly until the account owner could regain control; it’s not clear why that hasn’t happened here.

What do the hacked messages look like?

Like this:

obama hack tweet



BI


What’s Twitter saying about all this?

Not a lot.

In a fairly unenlightening statement via tweet, Twitter’s Security team confirmed there were shennanigans happening and that it was looking into it. “We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly,” they wrote.

What’s Twitter doing to stop it?

As of writing, Twitter appears to have prevented all verified accounts from tweeting in an attempt to crack down on the scam messages. The company hasn’t publicly said it’s doing this, but this reporter and others are currently unable to tweet.

What’s the scam?

Generally, the compromised accounts are posting a tweet saying they’re feeling generous (or some other similar motivation), and falsely claiming that if people send them bitcoin to their address, they’ll resend them double back. 

Should I send them bitcoin?

No.

Who’s behind the hack?

We don’t know yet. 

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider reporter Rob Price via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 650-636-6268), encrypted email ([email protected]), standard email ([email protected]), Telegram/Wickr/WeChat (robaeprice), or Twitter DM (@robaeprice). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by standard email only, please.

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