Some of the world's biggest Twitter accounts are hacked. Here's what we know

Business Insider US
  • A widespread Twitter scam has hacked into dozens of high-profile accounts, including that of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and US presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
  • A Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider that it's "looking into this," but in the meantime, it's unclear which accounts hackers still have planned to target.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

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. And some companies.

Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Apple's official account, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Uber, Wiz Khalifa, Floyd Mayweather, Cash App, MrBeast, XXXTentacion, parody account TheTweetOfGod ... 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?

Late Wednesday evening, Twitter said it had uncovered "what we believe to be a coordinated engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools." Those with access to those tools, "ostensibly Twitter employees," can reset email addresses associated with accounts, as TechCrunch reported.

What do the hacked messages look like?

Like this:

No, Obama is not going to give you free bitcoin.

What's Twitter saying about all this?

In a fairly unenlightening statement via tweet, Twitter's Security team confirmed there were shenanigans 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.

CEO Jack Dorsey chimed in on the incident in a tweet later on Wednesday evening, calling it a "tough day for us at Twitter."

"We all feel terrible this happened. We're diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened," Dorsey said.

Later on Wednesday, however, the company asserted that, once it became aware of the attack, it "locked down the affected accounts and removed Tweets posted by the attackers." As a precaution, it also limited access for a larger group of accounts - verified users ("blue checks") were unable to post for some time.

Despite the company's actions, hacked posts remained on the site long after many of its users realized things were awry.

"Our investigation continues and we hope to have more to share there soon," a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider.

What's Twitter doing to stop it?

Many verified users, including this reporter, said that they were unable to tweet, but could retweet others' posts. Twitter's Security team eventually followed its original tweet with updates confirming that users might not be able to tweet or reset their passwords while it looked into things.

Last night, they returned to say that the account restrictions should be lifted.

"Most accounts should be able to Tweet again. As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible," it tweeted.

Later on Wednesday, the company said that "Internally, we've taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing."

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?


Who's behind the hack?

We don't know yet.

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