Twitter Says 'Coordinated Social Engineering' Attack Caused Bitcoin Scam

Twitter says "a coordinated social engineering attack" against an employee caused Wednesday's massive takeover.

Jul 16, 2020 at 3:45 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:31 a.m. UTC

Twitter claims "a coordinated social engineering attack" caused one of the world's largest social media platforms to melt down on Wednesday after prominent celebrity profiles were used to promote a large-scale bitcoin scam.

  • A mass takeover of big-name celebrities including former Vice President Joe Biden, former U.S. President Barack Obama, Kanye West and Elon Musk saw their accounts compromised, starting at 19:00 UTC.
  • Twitter said in a series of tweets that hackers targeted "some of" its employees who had access to internal tools, which they used "to take control of many highly visible (including verified) accounts and [t]weet on their behalf."
  • The social media platform is looking into what else was impacted, while restoring accounts to their users.
  • Motherboard, VICE Magazine's tech section, said it spoke to two sources who took over accounts, who claimed they paid a Twitter insider to manage the takeovers.
  • Twitter being "highly centralized" led to the hack, said Ben Sigman, CTO at blockchain startup Make Sense Labs.
  • Twitter employees have "godmode" access to create tweets from any user, Sigman claimed.
  • It's worth noting all addresses are Bech32/Segwit addresses, which helps narrow down the wallet and service being used.


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