Late Wednesday night, Twitter was faced with a serious security incident that involved a cryptocurrency-related scam. The scammers were using high profile accounts to tweet a bitcoin wallet address where users were asked to send a certain amount of money with a promise to give back double the amount of bitcoin.
Profiles of significant personalities such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Joe Biden, and more were used to release these tweets. After these tweets were deleted, the scammers did a second round asking for similar bitcoin-related transfers.
The tweets were suspiciously constructed which helped in identifying them as fake. The second tweet from Musk’s account read- “You know I living giving back to my community. I’m doubling all BTC payments sent to my address. You send $1,000 and I will send #$2,000 back! Tell your family & friends! Only going on for 30 minutes. (sic)”
Initially, it was only Bill Gates and Elon Musk’s accounts that seem to have been affected but later more tech moguls and politicians also found themselves in the same trap.
What is cryptocurrency?
A digital wallet or virtual currency that works on a blockchain model is cryptocurrency. It is a decentralised mode of transactions and is highly secure for any hacker to break in. The entire concept of cryptocurrency is an attempt to change the way money is handled globally which is why it has faced some resistance from governments.
Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency which is not controlled by any government or bank, however, it is allowed for use. Facebook’s Libra is another example of cryptocurrency.
Why have the hackers asked for bitcoin money?
The obvious reason is to earn money and not actually send back double the amount. By using high profile accounts, their rationale must be to use people’s faith in these personalities that would lead them to give anything. Why bitcoins? There is no trace of where the money has been sent. It will be a lot more difficult to trace where the bitcoins have been sent because of its immutability.
What are security agents and officials doing?
While Twitter has taken cognizance of the matter and is investigating, other law enforcement firms have been approached to deal with this scam. Since bitcoin is difficult to trace, even exchanges and providers are now extracting more information out of their users. The involvement of important personalities would also have their personal teams investigate the matter.