Whether you like him or dislike him, one thing you can’t disagree with is that Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla and SpaceX, is a bonafide star. What he says makes news and his every utterance becomes a headline.
So obviously earlier in November, when he suddenly announced that he was stepping down from Tesla and giving away 10,000 BTC, it left the cryptocurrency world reeling.
This was his exact tweet: “I’m giving 10000 Bitcoin (BTC) to all community! I left the post of director of Tesla, thank you all for your suppoot! I decided to make the biggest crypto-giveaway in the world, for all my readers who use Bitcoin. Participate in giveaway – m-tesla.me” with an image of a QR code.
The name of the Twitter account was “Elon Musk” and it had the blue Twitter verified mark. It was also a promoted tweet. But the handle was a little strange – it was @capgemini_aust, an account that looked like it belonged to the global consulting firm, Capgemini.
And that’s when things started to unravel. This wasn’t Elon Musk, the billionaire who was tweeting. This was a hacker who had hacked into Capgemini Australia’s verified Twitter account, changed the name to “Elon Musk” and then tweeted this out, even paying money to promote it. In effect, this was a daring, very well-affected scam which had confused millions.
An organized scam
As it turned out, this wasn’t the only one. Throughout Twitter over the past month, plenty of businesses, including a UK clothing brand and a book & a record label, have been hijacked to impersonate Elon Musk and post about this cryptocurrency giveaway. This has left these accounts scrambling with Capgemini forced out to put out a statement: “We are aware that a number of Twitter accounts at various organizations have been impacted by this scam and the Capgemini Australia account was among them. It’s in the process of being restored and no Capgemini client operations have been adversely impacted.”
Elon Musk wasn’t the only victim of impersonation. Other prominent personalities who were impersonated by malicious criminals on Twitter with the promise of a cryptocurrency giveaway were Bill Gates, John McAfee, Vitalik Buterin and many others. There was an entire ecosystem of these impersonated accounts using promoted tweets to talk about the cryptocurrency giveaway with bots also responding to make it look authentic.
Target and Google targeted
Twitter did step into action banning all these impersonated accounts but then a new trend emerged. The hackers forego impersonation and decided to hack into major high-profile accounts. These accounts included leading departmental store Target, British skincare brand The Body Shop, Universal Music Czech Republic and even the UNHSCR Serbia account. Perhaps the biggest incident was when the Twitter account of Google’s collaboration tool G Suite was also compromised.
All the compromised Twitter accounts only tweeted about the supposed cryptocurrency giveaway which indicates that this is all the form of an organized scam. And it’s quite clear that Twitters users have to be doubly careful and follow precautions like:
- Twitter has an option to allow two-factor authentication which should ideally be checked as it allows for greater protection.
- Do not blindly indulge in cryptocurrency giveaways whether you see them on Twitter or any other social media.
- Don’t blindly trust what verified accounts from trusted brands are saying. The hackers want to take advantage of the trust you reposed in them.
- Check your privacy settings on all social media and see the kind of information you’re transmitting
- If you want to know more about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, always do it from a safe source
As an IT security partner for your business, Seqrite provides comprehensive security from advanced cyber threats. To know more