If you are a “celebrity” on Twitter or follow someone over the social media platform who is, you must be well aware of the influencing power it holds. Twitter accounts of prominent personalities have followers in the millions.
Imagine for a moment that the verified Twitter account of any such prominent personality solicits money from you for a touching cause like Covid-19. On top of your head, you would seriously think about doing something for this global cause.
But a recent cyber security breach at Twitter has shocked the world on many counts. Firstly, the verified Twitter accounts of imminent personalities like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Kanye West and few others were hacked.
The horror does not end here, those verified Twitter accounts of the above cited individuals were then used to send out tweets asking for money to help in the fight against Covid-19. The perpetrators of this attack sought money in the form of “Bitcoin”.
Some of these tweets were on these lines, “If you contribute an X amount in the form of Bitcoin, I (the prominent personality) will double that contribution”. Then, the tweet also contained a link to a certain Bitcoin digital wallet.
While Twitter is tight lipped over the security breach, the sheer scale of this attack leads us to believe that this was not an isolated incident. This attack was orchestrated by targeting Twitter employees with high level access to the platform’s internal systems and tools.
Cyber security analysts consider this to be the worst successful attack on any social media platform yet. This attack is unlike the pervious isolated incidents of Twitter accounts being hacked. The other dangerous aspect of this attack was soliciting money.
Had these tweets not originated from the verified Twitter accounts of prominent personalities, no one would have bothered. The accounts of powerful people soliciting money for a cause like Covid-19 was a recipe for disaster.
The true financial impact of this security breach is still being assessed. Given the highly shady and controversial nature of Bitcoin itself, we may never be able to determine the actual quantum of this notorious cyber attack.
As a precautionary move, Twitter has temporarily disallowed the sharing of Bitcoin digital wallet addresses over the platform. Few people believe this breach could have been a lot worse had it targeted some other sensitive issue in these uncertain times.
No matter how much we downplay this incident, it is yet again a stark reminder of the ever present cyber threats. It also raises serious questions around the cyber security apparatus and protocols even at billion dollar tech companies like Twitter.
This recent breach has also reignited the debate around the suspected misuse of social media platforms to influence the behavior of masses at times like the upcoming US presidential election.
Let’s hope Twitter fixes the vulnerabilities that led to this embarrassing attack. If the perpetrators of this attack can be brought to justice, we may learn a lot about the dark web out there. In the meantime, what we can do is stay away from such shady scams.