An apparent hacking swept through Twitter on Wednesday, with more than half a dozen high-profile accounts – among them those of United States presidential candidate Joe Biden, billionaire Bill Gates, and rapper Kanye West – used to solicit bitcoin donations.
The cause of the breach was not immediately clear, but the scale and the scope of the problem suggested that it was not limited to a single account or service.
Shares of Twitter tumbled nearly four percent in trading after the market close.
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
Twitter said in an email that it was looking into the matter and would issue a statement shortly.
Some of the tweets were swiftly deleted but there appeared to be a struggle to regain control of the accounts.
In the case of billionaire Telsa Chief Executive Elon Musk, for example, one tweet soliciting cryptocurrency was removed and, sometime later, another one appeared.
Among the other accounts affected were those of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the corporate accounts for Uber and Apple.
Note the email addresses change. Twitter has no reason to give employees native access to impersonate users.
Accounts are being stolen, auth token generated, and tweeted from. Note how legitimate users still have tokens to delete tweets. Not a clean hit.
— Swift⬡nSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity)
July 15, 2020 July 15, 2020
A spokesman for Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tesla was not immediately available for comment.
Publicly available blockchain records show that the apparent scammers have already received more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency.