The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Thursday the massive hacking operation of verified accounts on Twitter the day prior was part of a plot to “perpetuate cryptocurrency fraud.”
The FBI’s San Francisco Division told Sputnik in a Thursday statement via email it was “investigating the incident involving several Twitter accounts belonging to high profile individuals that occurred on July 15, 2020. At this time, the accounts appear to have been compromised in order to perpetuate cryptocurrency fraud.”
During the massive hacking operation Wednesday, verified accounts across the social media platform, some with millions of followers each, began tweeting out links to a bitcoin purse and prompting followers to “give back” amid the COVID-19 pandemic by transferring bitcoins into it.
By the time Twitter caught onto the scam and shut it down, the capers made off with $121,000 in bitcoins, according to an analysis by bitcoin compliance firm Elliptic.
Vice reported earlier Thursday, citing two sources from a hacking community responsible for the attack, that the hackers had collaborated with a Twitter employee who either provided them with the necessary internal administration tools or simply took over the accounts by themself.
The incident has also prompted Twitter to delay the introduction of its new application programming interface (API), which was slated for Thursday.
The Senate Commerce Committee has also invited Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify before the committee within the next week, saying in a letter the incident is “of great concern to the committee” as it “combines the need to protect users from fraud with larger concerns about social manipulation and disinformation online.”
Twitter Says Passwords Remain Secure
In a series of updates posted on Thursday by the Twitter Support account, the social media giant noted it had “no evidence that attackers accessed passwords. Currently, we don’t believe resetting your password is necessary.”
As part of the additional security measures we’ve taken, you may not have been able to reset your password. Other than the accounts that are still locked, people should be able to reset their password now.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020
Twitter further noted it had locked some accounts that recently switched around their login information “out of an abundance of caution,” further cautioning that “if your account was locked, this does not necessarily mean we have evidence that the account was compromised or accessed.”