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Massive Twitter Breach Compromises Celebrity Accounts

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By Chand Bellur

July 15, 2020 at 5:39 p.m. PT

  • A malicious user or group gained access to several high profile Twitter accounts today.
  • Compromised accounts ask Twitter followers to send $1000 to a bitcoin account, promising to send back $2000 immediately thereafter.
  • Prominent Twitter users such as Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Kanye West, Joe Biden, Apple, and other major corporations are affected by the security breach.

Twitter Compromised by Bitcoin Bandit

Microblogging platform Twitter is currently under attack. The social media company’s top celebrity accounts, stolen by a malicious actor or group, are now conning followers out of $1000, promising to double their money.

The attack started around 4 PM ET today, and is ongoing. It’s important to realize, if you’re following a famous person promising to double your $1000 contribution, it’s best to ignore the Tweet. It’s unclear how much money the attack has drawn; however, Twitter’s hour-long silence most likely aided and abetted the security breach.

The social media company managed to delete many offending Tweets; however, they’ve been unable to handle the attack. As of 6 PM ET, Twitter disabled many high profile accounts, preventing them from sending Tweets altogether. Muting several celebrity accounts is new territory for the San Francisco based company.

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It’s unclear how malicious users were able to take over so many accounts. It’s possible that the hacker or group found a security hole in Twitter’s authentication process. As more companies rely on single sign-on techniques, any trusted authentication partner poses a risk to other platforms, such as Twitter. It’s also possible that it’s an inside job, or someone stole the credentials of a Twitter administrator.

Given Twitter’s lackluster engineering, it’s likely that the breach was due to internal negligence. The company’s product is nothing special in terms of technology. The psychology behind social media made Twitter huge, not their technical prowess.

Seeding their platform with celebrities in its early stages led to rapid growth of the platform. This doesn’t mean Twitter’s engineering is rock solid. It took them over a decade to increase the size of Tweets. They’re still struggling to cope with this security breach, which most tech companies wouldn’t have experienced in the first place.

Social Media Sunset?

Although social media is in widespread use, people are starting to tire of the experience. Twitter’s daily active user rate started to plateau around 2015. Since then, they’ve only enjoyed modest increases in this vital statistic.

Social media is a mess, especially in today’s divided society. Everyone has a voice on social media, even the most uneducated, deplorable human beings on the planet. While there’s been some attempt to impose fact-checking and moderate extreme accounts, Twitter and other social media platforms allow celebrities to get away with anything. After all, they don’t want to kill the golden goose.

All of this amounts to an experience that, at best, causes people to waste time profusely. At worst, social media can fleece people out of money or victimize them with threats of violence or sexual assault. There have even been cases of Twitter conflicts producing violence in the real world. Donald Trump’s divisive politics, greatly enhanced by Twitter, have done little to improve the world.

Facebook recently underwent a massive pullout from advertisers over Mark Zuckerberg’s reluctance to moderate high profile, caustic individuals. Twitter engaged in some light moderation of Donald Trump, which both his supporters and detractors failed to appreciate.

Social media is a fad. Facebook and Twitter claim they’re important fixtures in contemporary society; however, more people communicate with Apple’s iMessage technology than with any other social media provider. At the end of the day, we like to communicate with people we know and trust, not a bunch of toxic randoms.

As more and more people delete their social media accounts, they find that the real world has much more to offer. Social media is a time suck. It hurts the bottom lines of corporations, as employees steal time from work to participate on Twitter and other platforms. It’s the new opiate of the masses, designed to addict its users psychologically.

Deleting my social media accounts was the best thing I ever did. It’s one of the few decisions I’ve never regretted.

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