Twitter has been hacked a few days ago, while scammers gained access to various Twitter accounts of celebrities and posted messages on their behalf calling for bitcoins to be sent. In return, they would receive twice as much in return, but none of that was true. Several hundred people fell victim and the scammers captured more than 13 BTC. According to Twitter, the scammers had invaded internal systems through employee accounts.
Something strange happened a few days ago: the twitter accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West and many others called for a batch of bitcoins to be sent to a bitcoin address almost simultaneously.
In return, people would receive double the amount back; an apparently generous gift in this harsh COVID-19 crisis. The accounts of various bitcoin exchanges and prominent figures from the bitcoin community also seemed to participate.
It was, of course, a scam and people who sent bitcoins lost their money. It is a well-known form of scam that has been around for some time; a kind of modern version of the Nigerian prince who is supposedly desperate for someone to donate his millions.
Most people see through these kinds of scams and do not fall for them, but a small part – merciless or lack of knowledge – are mercilessly victimized.
However, it is the first time that the scams have occurred on this scale and the messages have been posted through official accounts. Usually, scammers apply tricks to impersonate celebrities, for example with accounts of the same name that imitate the original as closely as possible. However, this time the messages were posted via the official and verified Twitter accounts of the relevant celebrities.
According to Twitter, it was a ‘social engineering hack’ aimed at Twitter employees with access to the internal systems. Through this route, the scammers would have gained access to the various twitter accounts. Once inside, the rightful owners were shut out and the scammers had free rein.
We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.
– Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020
Twitter has now taken action and the fraudulent messages have been removed. Some accounts have been blocked, and Twitter said they will restore access to them when they are confident they can do so. Internally, they say they have taken measures to limit access to the systems.
Centralized vs decentralized
The incident again demonstrates the disadvantages and risks of traditional and centralized models. In one fell swoop, hackers gained access to the accounts, a piece of online identity, of thousands of users because the management is centrally organized.
The central party, in this case Twitter, is a weak link and the profit potential for hackers is very large: once success provides malicious access to almost everything.
That is very different from the decentralized model on which Bitcoin is based. With Bitcoin, there is no central management and each user is responsible for his or her Bitcoin wallet (s). Therefore, there is nowhere an employee with universal access who can be hacked, nor a central authority that has power or control over the network. With Bitcoin, users are in charge of their own wallet.
The lack of a central party makes it a lot more difficult for hackers: after all, they will have to hack every user individually. And that is of course much less profitable, more work and therefore much less interesting.
Bitcoin & scams
Bitcoin is popular with scammers because it has some unique features as money. Bitcoin does not work on the basis of identity and that makes it difficult for investigation services to trace the perpetrators. In addition, bitcoin transactions are irreversible. Once a malicious person has got the loot, there is actually nothing that can be done about it.
In the past, we have therefore seen various forms of scams using bitcoin. For example, there are fraudulent websites that offer fake investments or fictitious returns against payment in bitcoin. In addition, the identity of many well-known Famous people has also been misused over time with fake advertisements that claimed to have special bitcoin software with which one can become rich.
Bitcoin is money and criminals have known that for a long time. As always, they do everything to steal their money or bitcoins.
Therefore, it cannot be said often enough: Do not believe people who believe in golden mountains. Don’t send money to people who promise to return more. Also, don’t do that if they have a nice website or a nice suit. There is no software or method that guarantees guaranteed money without risk and stay away from anyone who promises to.
Preferably do not use an exchange, online wallet or other websites to manage your bitcoins. Like Twitter, they are also regularly targeted by hackers. And, unlike with a social media account, you risk losing all your bitcoins.
The only real way to use bitcoin is from your own bitcoin wallet. Only then do you not depend on anyone and do not have to rely on anyone. Remember, “Not your keys, not your coins”.
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