Hackers were recently able to breach top Twitter accounts including the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, former president Barack Obama, and presidential candidate Joe Biden. Biden’s tweet, posted by hackers, read: “I am giving back to the community! All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled!” The rest of the tweets had similar messages. While Twitter was able to delete most of the messages and gain some control, other accounts repeatedly posted messages. Eventually, Twitter disabled many services, including the ability of every verified user to post tweets, in an effort to shut down the hackers. The hackers were able to rake in $120,000 in Bitcoin transactions before the attack was stopped, half of which was withdrawn during the day.
Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened.— jack (@jack) July 16, 2020
We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.
💙 to our teammates working hard to make this right.
Twitter reported that the hack was enabled by attackers who tricked “[employees] into giving up their credentials” in a coordinated move and were then able to access high-profile accounts. The company is still conducting further investigation, and co-founder Jack Dorsey said that they would be releasing more information. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is conducting an investigation as well.
The nature of the attacks – which did little real damage to any institutions – “led American intelligence agencies to an initial assessment that this was most likely the work of an individual hacker, not a state.” Others have pointed to the similarities of attacks from 2016, which were blamed on Russia attempting to interfere with the presidential elections.
Twitter has received much criticism over similar episodes in which hackers broke into the system in 2010, 2017, and 2019. One article read that it is “arguably the biggest security incident in Twitter’s history.” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) stated, “A successful attack on your system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security.”