After the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Kanye West and Elon Musk, among other famous users, were hijacked to solicit bitcoin Wednesday, the social media service temporarily blocked verified users from posting messages.
Affected Twitter handles also included those belonging to Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Jeff Bezos, as well as corporate accounts for Apple and Uber.
The accounts sent out tweets promising to double the money sent by anyone via bitcoin .
So far, the bitcoin address tweeted by the hackers has been sent over 12 Bitcoins, worth more than $110,000. It appeared that popular Bitcoin exchange Coinbase blocked its users from sending money to the address.
“We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter,” the company tweeted. “We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.”
Twitter also said users may be temporarily unable to post updates or change their passwords.
Twitter shares declined 3.8% after the market closed.
In its early days as a service popular with celebrities and news outlets, Twitter was a frequent target for hackers and account takeovers were common. At one point, a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army was able to gain control of the accounts of then-President Obama, the New York Times, the Associated Press and the Guardian.
In 2013, Twitter added two-factor authentication, which requires users who enable that to verify their identity with a phone number.
In 2017, a contract worker in Twitter’s Trust & Safety division used his access to briefly deactivate the personal account of President Trump. After restoring Trump’s account, Twitter said it had put in place additional safeguards “to prevent this from happening again.” Trump’s account was not among those compromised in Wednesday’s attack.
Bloomberg was used in compiling this report.
By Jeff Bercovici, Los Angeles Times