Prominent and verified Twitter accounts were hacked, on Wednesday, in an apparent bitcoin scam.
The accounts of Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk were among those targeted.
The hackers tweeted a fake message requesting people to donate amounts in cryptocurrency to an anonymous bitcoin address and promised to offer $2,000 for every $1,000.
“I’m giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back, doubled!
“If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes,” said a deleted tweet from the account of Joe Bidden, the presidential candidate of the United States.
Twitter has since responded and warned its users that they might not be able to tweet or reset their passwords as the company works on the security breach.
The company said the hackers gained access to its internal control and took away the control of the prominent and verified accounts.
“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,” tweeted Twitter Support.
“You may be unable to Tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident.
“We’re continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this. Thanks for your patience.
“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,” Twitter said.
Social engineering attack
The social media giant said it is still working to understand the situation, but preliminary investigations show coordinated social engineering attacks.
Social engineering is a cyber security term which means the use of deception to manipulate users or employees of a company to get confidential information.
“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,” said Twitter Support two hours later.
“We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf.
“We are looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it,” the Support added.
Target of hackers
Twitter has been a target of hackers, putting many people to question the security control of the platform.
“This appears to be the worst hack of a major social media platform yet,” Dmitri Alperovitch, a cybersecurity expert, told Reuters.
The official Twitter account of APC Nigeria was hacked in 2018 and the hacker had also appeared as a bitcoin scammer.
“This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing,” Bill Gates’ spokesman told AP news agency after the attack.
Other accounts targeted include that of Kim Kardashians West, Kanye West, Mike Bloomberg, Apple Inc., and Uber.