Written by Sean Lyngaas
Hackers on Wednesday took over a series of high-profile Twitter accounts — including those of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — to promote cryptocurrency scams in a remarkable security breach.
The cause of the breach was not immediately clear. But a series of similarly worded tweets promoting bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency, began appearing from the compromised accounts around the same time on Wednesday. The Twitter account of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini appeared to be swept up in the scam, as did Apple’s official Twitter account.
— Jᵾlien Genestoux (@julien51) July 15, 2020
Twitter said it was investigating and addressing the incident.
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.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2020
Among other accounts compromised were those belonging to musical artist Kanye West, Tesla founder Elon Musk and former president Barack Obama.
Rob Joyce, a longtime National Security Agency official, noted the hackers could have done a lot more with their access to the breached accounts.
Well there is something you don’t see everyday. Elon Musk and Bill Gates verified twitter accounts used to push out bitcoin scams. Imagine if they wanted to do worse…. pic.twitter.com/I5rdIdTuKX
— Rob Joyce (@RGB_Lights) July 15, 2020
The accounts tweeted the same bitcoin wallet address, which gathered a large amount of money since the scam started. As of 6 p.m. EDT Wednesday, the wallet had received over $113,000 in bitcoin.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.