The biggest known cyber breach of social media giant Twitter targeted a total of approximately 130 accounts, with the attackers gaining control of and sending tweets from a small subset of the total, the company said on July 16.
The attacks started in the afternoon on July 15 when Twitter accounts associated with major players in the cryptocurrency industry sent messages featuring a common bitcoin scam. As users began to raise alarm, the attacker moved on to some of the biggest and influential accounts on Twitter, including former president Barack Obama, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and rapper-turned-businessman Kanye West.
Twitter said it is still working to determine whether non-public data, like direct messages, was stolen during the breach. In the meantime, the company has disabled the ability to download a user’s private data.
Twitter had said earlier on Thursday that some of the users of the targeted accounts would be locked out until the company can ensure that access is handed back over to the rightful owners. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, sent a message on Friday morning after a two-day hiatus, suggesting his was among the accounts targeted.
“Guess who’s back?” Trump Jr. wrote.
As of 10:45 a.m. on Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a prolific Twitter user, has not sent a message since his account was hacked. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, whose hacked account was among those which sent out the bitcoin scam, sent the first message since the hack in the afternoon on Thurdsay.
“I don’t have Bitcoin, and I’ll never ask you to send me any. But if you want to chip in to help make Donald Trump a one-term President, you can do that here,” Biden wrote alongside a link to a donation page.
Twitter said the company is still investigating the breach and working aggressively to secure their systems.
“We’re still in the process of assessing longer-term steps that we may take and will share more details as soon as we can,” the company said.
The FBI opened an investigation into the Twitter hack, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.
While Twitter has had security incidents in the past, Wednesday’s attacks were by far the most brazen and far-reaching. In 2017, a rogue employee briefly deleted President Donald Trump’s account. Last year, a hacker gained access to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s account and posted racist messages.
The bitcoin scam netted the hackers just over $117,000 as of July 17, suggesting the attack was either unsophisticated or used as a cover for a more sinister reason. Some experts believe it is likely the hack was more than a cryptocurrency scam.